THE public healthcare system in Gauteng is in the ICU, which is ironic given that the province's healthcare budget has increased tenfold over the past two decades from just under R6 billion (thousand million) in 2000 to R60 billion this year. In the same period, the population nearly doubled: from 8,8 million people (2001) to about 16 million currently, of whom an estimated 64,2% are dependent on the state for health care, according to a 2022 health department report. (To put this in perspective: The Western Cape's health budget is R23,8 billion, with a population of 7 million, of which 52% use the public healthcare system.)
Yet all this money for Gauteng's healthcare system does not mean more or better hospitals or better services for patients. In fact, patients in state hospitals are much worse off than they were before. Ordinary citizens tell horror stories of unsanitary conditions, poor service and negligence, and headlines in newspapers and official reports, such as two by the Ombudsman for Health and one by the Office of the Public Protector (PP) since 2017, confirm this.
One would think that the damning report by the Ombudsman for Health, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, after the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which 144 people with mental health conditions died following the forced relocation of more than 1 500 patients from Life Esidimeni, would have caused the Gauteng health authorities to reflect. Makgoba's findings include that the department acted negligently by hastily relocating the patients to 27 facilities operated by ill-equipped, unlicensed NGOs. Most of the deaths were from starvation or negligence...
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