South Africa: A Tragedy That's Indicative of SA's Failing Health Systems


As Parliament prepares to debate the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and as the Department of Health begins work on laying the foundations for the NHI fund, judges from the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) have ordered Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to urgently 'address... serious and serial negligence in hospitals falling under the Eastern Cape Health Department'.

Somewhere in the OR Tambo District of the Eastern Cape lives a mother and her soon to be six-year-old child. We don't know their real names. In a recent judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal, they were known only as AN and EN. But let me tell you a little of their story.

On 2 October 2013 AN arrived at All Saints Hospital in Engcobo to give birth to her first child. Fortunately, her pregnancy had been an uneventful and healthy one. The delivery was expected to be uncomplicated. But her good fortune had run out. AN was admitted to hospital and then left in labour for 12 hours. During the night, nurses ignored her cries for help. The standard guidelines on delivery were ignored. This is how Judge Mahube Molemela, who wrote a dissenting judgment, described what happened...

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