SA Medical Association outraged over Sona’s failure to address healthcare crisis

Photo for illustration. Healthcare workers at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on 11 January 2020. PHOTO: The Citizen/Jacques Nelles

The South African Medical Association (Sama) expressed concern over the recent State of the Nation Address (Sona) and the lack of attention given to the collapsing healthcare system, which is already in a state of disaster.

The association is calling for immediate action to be taken to address these issues and improve the state of the healthcare system in South Africa.

SA’s healthcare crisis
Impact of energy crisis
According to Sama, less than 20% of the country’s public hospitals are currently exempt from load shedding, with many relying on diesel to keep their operations going.

The energy crisis and cable theft further hampered the ability of healthcare providers to deliver quality care to patients.

During the Sona, President Cyril Ramaphosa only declared a national state of disaster in response to the energy crisis, ignoring the dire state of the healthcare system.

Already in state of disaster
Sama claims the country and its healthcare system are already in a state of disaster, with healthcare workers struggling to provide proper care due to a lack of infrastructure and proper equipment.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) was also not addressed in the Sona, despite Sama having raised concerns about its implementation.

The association welcomes the idea of universal healthcare coverage but is worried about how it will be achieved considering the current state of the healthcare system.

Healthcare system fails millions
Sama members have stated their intentions to emigrate should the NHI be implemented in its current form, which would result in a further decline in the doctor-to-patient ratio and worsening health outcomes for those in need.

Furthermore, Sama members across the spectrum are suffering due to the current state of the healthcare system:

“From interns and community service doctors, who are not placed or paid on time, to practising registrars who are dealing with safety and security issues, to public service doctors who are not equipped with the necessary tools to practice and private practice doctors who are incurring unplanned energy costs.”

The Citizen