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A Healthy City is a Working City – Herman Mashaba

Herman MashabaThe following is an extract from a speech delivered by the Democratic Alliance’s Johannesburg Mayoral Candidate,Herman Mashaba, during and oversight visit to Joubert Park Clinic, Hillborw. Mashaba was joined by DA Shadow Minister of Health, Dr Wilmot James MP, DA Johannesburg Regional Leader, Khume Ramulifho MPL, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Heinrich Volmink MP, DA Shadow MEC for Health, Jack Bloom MPL, and the DA’s Shadow MMC for Health and Social Development in the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Ingrid Reinten.

We have just seen another example of the real state of healthcare being provided by the City of Johannesburg. The Joubert Park Clinic in Hillbrow is under resourced and chronically understaffed.

There are two professional nurses seeing 80 to 100 patients each per day. These nurses are overworked and it is little wonder that this sector is plagued by widespread vacancies. There can be no quality treatment provided to individual patients under such circumstances.

This clinic, like many other around the city, has too little space and this results in the clinic being filled to the brim with patients. This allows for disease to easily spread.

Most alarming is that medical waste storage is highly irregular, with no bio-hazard warning signs and medical waste being mixed up with the storage of other stock.

Furthermore, the clinic has run out of ARV’s placing the health and lives of its HIV patients at risk.

According to the Johannesburg’s Health and Social Development business plan 2016/17, the City is unable to recruit and retain the required skilled workforce which has resulted in a shortage of critical staff and an inability to cope with increased service demands.

The ANC appears completely incapable of dealing with this crisis and has provided no tangible solutions.

Under the current ANC leadership the City stands to continue losing skilled human capital and reduced funding/re-allocation of public sector funding as well.

A recent study by the University of Witwatersrand indicated how nurses are suffering from “burnout and resented the increasing burden placed on them with regard to primary care in Johannesburg.”

Just last week I visited the Princess Clinic, where over a period of 8 months the clinic has gone from seeing 1000 patients per month to an estimated 2300 per month on average.

I strongly believe that clinics are well placed to play a crucial role in the delivery of healthcare at the point of need. They have a vital role to play in contributing positively to a healthy workforce, which drives local economic activity.

The DA has a vision for improving healthcare in the City of Joburg, because a healthy city is a working city.

When elected as Mayor I will do six things to bolster clinical healthcare in Johannesburg:

  1. I will ensure that we have 24 hour appropriately stocked and staffed clinics. The Joubert Park Clinic is only open Monday to Friday, from 8:30pm to 4pm. This is wholly inappropriate for catering to the large Hillbrow population.
  1. All clinics that have not been refurbished will be upgraded into modern, well equipped facilities by the end of my first term. This will include the provision of a generator at every clinic due to the frequent City Power outages.
  1. I will ensure the continuous development of professional nurses through my plan to identify city-owned properties that entrepreneurs can adapt into top-performing schools and colleges of excellence, such as a primary health care nurse training facility. In addition, a DA-run City will provide bursaries for nurses undergoing the one year training programme and internships at City-run clinics so as to provide them with some income over the year. While recipients of these bursaries will not have to pay the money back to the City, they will be committed to working at City-run clinics once training is completed. It would therefore be a win-win situation, empowering nurses with the opportunity to flourish and ensuring our City has a healthy skilled workforce.
  1. I will improve nursing retention rates to ensure that clinics never run short of medical personnel and immediately improve their working conditions. Improving work conditions and incentivising hard work will improve the retention rate of our nurses who have been taken for granted by the City. There is currently no incentive-based programme for nurses and this explains partly why this City is running short of nurses. Under a DA government, nurses will be treated with the respect that their extraordinary work merits.
  1. I will transform clinics from being mere healthcare facilities to being multi-functional centres where food gardens, health workshops and local drug action community meetings can be hosted.
  1. Finally, in order to ensure a quality healthcare service, I will put healthcare back into the hands of professionals and out of the often harmful influence of politicians.  Political interference leads to unfunded mandates and the poor allocation of resources.

Academic research has shown that there is an enormous payoff from investing in health. The research showed that reducing a country’s mortality rate has accounted for about 11% of recent economic growth in low-income and middle-income countries.

This highlights the importance of implementing my 6 point plan.

As mayor, I will also work closely with the NGO sector and universities, to ensure we systematically record health data of communities and ensure greater access to this information. This will allow NGO’s, civil society and the private sector to play a greater role in partnering with the City and various needy communities.

What the ANC run government is failing to realise, is healthy people and a healthy environment go hand in hand.

The DA recognises that improving health requires improving peoples’ living environment. As mayor, my administration will focus the necessary resources into improving surrounding poorer areas, something the ANC administration has failed to do.

Stats SA’s recently released Non-Financial Municipalities Census underlines the damning plight of Joburg’s provision of support to indigent households. The City only provides 7.36% with water, 9.66% with sewerage and sanitation, and 23.62% with solid waste management.

These figures paint a clear picture of the extent of Tau’s administration’s failure to care for the poorest in this city.

On 3 August vote for a healthy city.

Vote for a working city.

Vote for change that will move the City of Johannesburg forward again.

By Herman Mashaba, Herman is the Democratic Alliance’s Johannesburg Mayoral Candidate

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