The Portfolio Committee on Health is of the considered view that the continued unavailability of Charlotte Maxake Hospital will have a negative impact on the ability of the Gauteng public health system to manage the 3rd wave of Covid-19 infections.
The committee conducted an oversight visit to the Gauteng Province to assess the province's healthcare facilities in rolling out Phase II of the Vaccination Programme as well as measures in place to manage the 3rd wave Covid-19 infections.
"It will be practically impossible for the province to manage the 3rd wave without the more than 1000 beds which is inclusive of 124 Intensive Care Unit beds at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. This matter needs urgent attention and we have committed as the Portfolio Committee to engage national Ministers to see how they can assist to ensure that the facility is ready and available to assist in the management of the 3rd wave," said Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee is of the view that all stakeholders, including the Department of Health (both provincially and nationally), the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure must urgently meet to find solutions to ensure that the facility is ready and available to assist in managing Covid-19 infections.
Also, the importance of the facility stretches beyond the management of Covid-19, with the hospital having speciality services that are of benefit to other provinces as well. "The continued unavailability of these services is untenable, hence the need for urgent action," Dr Dhlomo emphasised.
Despite this, the committee welcomed the intention by the Gauteng Department of Health to open more vaccination sites to expand access to vaccines. The committee remains cognisant that the fight against the spread of Covid-19 will only be strengthened by the effective rollout of vaccines that will eventually ensure herd immunity. As such, the committee has welcomed the expansion of sites as a step in the right direction to ensure the maximisation of the vaccination programme. The sites visited by the committee were all operational and functioning, but the committee raised concerns at the Kopanong hospital.
"The infrastructure development that was halted almost a year ago at the Kopanong Hospital prevents the expansion of the vaccination site to ensure that it caters for an increased number of people to speed up vaccinations. The committee will interact with the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure to find solutions to the delays in finishing the infrastructure programme," Dr Dhlomo said.
The shortage of water at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, Hellen Joseph Hospital and a number of community health centres is of huge concern to the committee and the committee calls for urgent cooperative effort by all stakeholders. The committee welcomes the possibility of the provision of Jojo tanks as a temporary measure to ensure the availability of water to healthcare facilities. Also, the committee has urged both Rand Water and the City of Johannesburg to intervene to ensure the availability of water at all times.
The committee is concerned by the rising number of Covid-19 infections and has urged everyone to continue to adhere to health protocols and to avoid large gatherings. "As we enter the 3rd wave, we must be vigilant, work with authorities and wear our masks to ensure that we limit the impact of the 3rd wave," Dr Dhlomo concluded.