Johannesburg — Gauteng Premier David Makhura has ordered a wide-ranging inspection and assessment of all centres that care for the most vulnerable, the elderly, people with disabilities and children - following the tragic death of over 100 mental health patients in the province.
Presenting his State of the Province Address, on Monday, Premier Makhura said his government will implement the full recommendations of the Health Ombudsman into the transfer of mental health patients to NGOs from Life Esidimeni.
Health Ombudsman, Prof Malekgapuru Makgoba, found that 94 of the transferred psychiatric patients had died of starvation and a lack of water at the NGOs they were placed in. Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned as a result of the scandal.
Premier Makhura said he would spend the remainder of his term in office ensuring that there is restorative justice and healing for the families and that every executive action possible is taken to restore confidence in public health system.
"I would like to state categorically that the decision to transfer Life Esidimeni mental health patients to NGOs was not made in consultation with the Provincial Executive Council. The Executive Council and I would have never approved a plan to outsource mental health, a primary responsibility of the state to care for the vulnerable in society, to NGOs. What is even worse is the fact that such NGOs didn't meet appropriate standards and legal prescripts," he said.
Premier Makhura said every institution in Gauteng that provides services to the most vulnerable must meet appropriate standards. He said the province cannot wait for another tragedy before taking action.
"The Life Esidimeni tragedy must spur us into action over the next two years to restore the dignity and human rights of mental health patients and all vulnerable groups in our communities. I am determined to lead this mission over the next two years of my term of office as the premier of this province. I will appoint the Premier's Mental Health Advisory Panel to assist in this mission."
The Premier emphasised that cost considerations can never override the imperative of quality of care.
He said he would personally handle the investigation and make sure that all recommendations of the health ombud are implemented. - SAnews.gov.za-TLM