21 April 2017

South Africa: Life Esidimeni - Most Patients Moved, but Families Concerned

analysis

It's been 80 days since Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba revealed that at least 94 patients, who had been moved from Life Esidimeni, died in brutal conditions at NGOs. The Gauteng government says it's taking care to move patients back to safe facilities, but family members are concerned. By GREG NICOLSON.

When Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba's report came out, the first priority was to ensure patients were safe and moved to adequate facilities. Chronic mental illness patients had been moved out of Life Esidimeni and into NGOs in mid-2016. The Gauteng health department had implemented a plan it was told would fail, transferred patients like cattle to NGOs that shouldn't have been licensed, and which didn't have the skills or resources to provide care. Over 100 of society's most vulnerable people died preventable deaths in inhumane conditions.

Taking over from Qedani Mahlangu, who quit before the report was released, new MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, along with Premier David Makhura and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, promised to keep safe those patients still languishing in NGOs. Transferring them back to adequate facilities has proved slow, with the government getting an extension on the ombudsman's 45-day timeline, but on Thursday Ramokgopa assured the public the...

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