South Africa: Denosa Demands Protection of Health Workers As They Become Sacrificial Lambs for Shortages of Resources in Facilities

press release

As the festive season draws closer, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is appealing to both Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, and MECs of health services in provinces to prioritize the issue of security and shortage of resources in many health facilities in the country, because many health workers have been beaten up, stabbed and shot at inside health facilities by community members and criminals because of this.

The rate of attacks on health workers is escalating, and DENOSA argues strongly that this is tightly linked to the shortage of resources in many facilities, which often infuriates family members of patients. Sadly, as a result of these shortages, nurses and doctors are paying the price as they get beaten up by frustrated community members.

There has not been any clear political will to address this chronic challenge, despite many calls from DENOSA and many other labour unions. Every morning, our members are scared of reporting to work because their safety is no longer guaranteed by the employer in the workplace. That the issue of security is an ongoing concern is a clear sign that the employer just does not care for them. They feel exploited and enslaved every single day.

DENOSA appeals to minister and MECs that, for once in their lifetime, they must show that they care about the safety of health workers and patients in our facilities. Patients have been followed to health facilities by their attackers without any protection from the current inadequate security.

After the incident where health workers were attacked at Lebowakgomo Hospital in Limpopo recently, which prompted the minister to visit the province together with police minister, two more incidents have since occurred this past weekend: at Manne Dipico Hospital in Colesberg in the Northern Cape and at Leratong Hospital in Johannesburg where health worker and security were attacked by thieves and community members. And prior to the Lebowakgomo incident, a nurse was attacked at Ramokonopi Clinic in Vosloorus in Ekurhuleni. There are many incidents that occur but don't get reported on.

The tangible solution to the security problem, we have been saying for years, is the insourcing of security services by government. But this has not happened.

For how long must this continue and how many health workers must die first before Minister and MECs take the issue of security and shortage of resources as a priority?

This issue is a ticking time-bomb. Because we have been raising this matter, the employer must not be surprised when, one day, health workers do not report for duty.

The quick solution in the form of economic stimulus package on health, as announced by President, won't cause any great improvement because of the extent and depth of challenges in our healthcare system.

Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)

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