‘No urgency’ from govt to resolve health sector crisis, say unions

‘No urgency’ from govt to resolve health sector crisis, say unions

The South African Medical Association Union on Tuesday accused the government of showing a lack of urgency in resolving the current unemployment crisis in the public health sector.

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This claim comes after Health Minister Joe Phaahla said there is no budget to hire all medical graduates.

Phaahla briefed the media on Monday amid growing concerns over the number of medical graduates who cannot find employment despite the staff shortages at public health facilities.

Samatu’s general secretary Cedric Sihlangu said the time has come for the government to bail out the public health sector.

“There is no urgency in resolving the current unemployment crisis of health professionals, particularly doctors, who are crucially needed in the many facilities in the country. So, because they enjoy private hospitals, they see no need to urgently address these issues and yet the poor, the marginalised, would need these services from these doctors who are now sitting at home.

“We call on the government; we call on the president to take drastic steps to reallocate funds to ensure that doctors are employed and that they can service the population. We’ve seen that when there is political will, government can bail out Eskom, SAA. So, it is high time the government bails out the people of this country, the poor and the marginalised.”    

At the same time, the Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) accused Phaahla of lying about unemployed doctors.

HAITU's general secretary, Lerato Mthunzi, said the Department of Health needs to stop implementing austerity measures and increase spending on public health.

“It is totally unjustified for the state to preach poverty when there is a lot of research proving that a healthy population is one that is more economically active. There is clear evidence that a good public healthcare system contributes to a healthy, growing economy. Therefore, the massive benefits of providing quality healthcare to the public far outweigh the cost.”


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