Mokopane — The Limpopo Provincial Government has called for a commission of inquiry into the deaths of four children who are believed to have died at a state hospital due to a shortage of doctors.
The children died at George Masebe Hospital in Mokopane on Friday and Saturday, allegedly from diarrhoea and vomiting.
On Monday afternoon, provincial Health and Social Development MEC Dr Norman Mabasa visited the hospital unannounced and expressed shock at the hospital's state of affairs.
"We need to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the deaths of the four children and [probe] other service related complaints that have come through the MEC's hotline," said Mabasa.
He said the commission of inquiry would be given a week to report back to his office.
"The situation here is appalling, and goes against everything we stand for as a department. I want the commission of inquiry to report to my office within a week, and any official found to have acted negligently will be dealt with accordingly," he said.
During the surprise visit, Mabasa found wards were unattended by doctors. Some patients reported that they had not been seen by a doctor for a week.
"These reports have grossly shocked us; we cannot have a public health system that continues to fail the people who entirely depend on it for their health and their lives.
"As to why the children died, it's a subject that needs to be addressed through an investigation. There is nothing one can say or do now, except to say that there must be an investigation into the reasons behind the death of the children," Mabasa said.
There are reports that the hospital has been running with only three doctors since the beginning of the year after six others went on leave in December.