Only 55% of South Africa’s public health facilities have “Ideal Clinic” status. This was revealed by the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, in answer to a written parliamentary question from the DA.

Ideal Clinics are facilities that conforms to the following standard: “good infrastructure, adequate staff, adequate medicine and supplies, good administrative processes and sufficient bulk supplies that use applicable clinical policies, protocols, guidelines to ensure the provision of quality health services to the community”.

Of the country’s 3 477 clinics and hospitals, only 32% have achieved platinum status, which means they achieved 100% in the category for non-negotiable vitals, more than 80% in the vital category, more than 70% in essential and important categories. What is particularly concerning is those facilities that do not pass the non-negotiable vitals criteria, of which there are only three:

  • Emergency trolley is restored daily or after each use;
  • Functional oxygen cylinder with pressure gauge is available in resuscitation/ emergency room; and
  • Oxygen available in the cylinder is above the minimum level.

Furthermore, Health MECs have warned Parliament that they were running out of funds to buy fuel for generators as hospitals are forced to rely on them due to loadshedding. They also revealed that power often had to be cut to critical areas and that the lifespan of specialised equipment were being reduced because of the rolling blackouts.

This while its vital for ideal clinics to have access to a functional back-up electrical supply when needed.

Given the dire state of health facilities the DA has encountered on oversights and the number of complaints we’re received from patients and staff at hospitals and clinics, it seems a miracle that 55% of hospitals and clinics managed to receive ideal status at all. With loadshedding ever on the increase, the number of facilities that maintain their status could decrease dramatically.

The President’s announcement in his post-SONA debate reply that the ANC will push NHI implementation come hell or high water despite the country’s economic reality, staff shortages and infrastructure failures, does not bode well. Not only has ANC policies of cadre deployment and facilitated corruption hollowed-out the public health system, their single minded focus on a system bound to fail will decimate what little is left of South African health care.

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Michele Clarke MP

Michele Clarke MP is the Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Health.

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