The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has condemned the reports that the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital has been looted of copper piping alleged to be worth R30 million rands.
The hospital was closed in April after being gutted by fire that ravaged several parts of the hospital including COVID-19 wards. Patients had to be evacuated and transferred to other hospitals.
COMMISSION CONDEMNS VANDALISM AND THEFT
In a statement the Commission said the reports come at a time when the hospital and the Gauteng health care system are still contending with the negative impact that the fire damage has had on the provision of healthcare services to thousands of hospital users.
“The recent monitoring visits undertaken by the Commission to Charlotte Maxeke revealed the challenges and issues around physical infrastructure at the hospital. It further drew heightened attention to the extent and nature of the impact that the fire damage had on the patient’s right to health care.”
According to the media reports, the theft of the piping could leave some parts of the hospital without hot water. It cannot be gainsaid that without hot water and appropriate infrastructure, patients cannot be treated according to the required standards.
The Commission said while it understands that access to healthcare is seriously constrained at the moment due to the current third wave, it is of the view that appropriate infrastructure must always be in place for the health care system to function optimally and to be available and of an adequate standard.
“This reported incident of looting requires the Department of Health and other hospitals to urgently conduct a holistic security assessment of all health care facilities in the Gauteng province. The Commission is of the view that the adequate functioning of the health care system depends on infrastructure and that the implementation of human rights cannot be fully achieved without adequate budget to maintain, revitalize and safeguard the existing physical infrastructure.”
The Commission called on the Department of Health and the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital management to improve security and allocate more resources to secure critical infrastructure and assets at this facility. Consequentially, the allocation of additional budget for security can either facilitate, or impede protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights.