Health care is a subject matter very close to my heart. This is particularly the case because I have relatives, some of them very close, who passed away due to curable diseases. It’s just that they could not afford proper medical care.
All those who do not turn a blind eye to what they see, they will agree with me that a lot has changed in terms of the improvement of the public health care system since the ANC became the ruling party. There were places which had no health facilities. People had to travel long distances to get to hospital. Today most of those areas have clinics. Some of those who are ignorant of this reality will want to have us believe that nothing has changed. These will mostly be people who have always had access to quality health care, indeed nothing has changed for them.
About 5 years ago, I was involved in a car accident. If you look very close there are scars on my forehead. Only women are allowed to look that close though. I did not put on a seatbelt so when the car crashed behind the wheel of a truck, my head headed for the wind-screen. Holding on to the steering wheel, as I was driving did not help. Immediately after the accident I checked on my 2 passenger if they are okay. They looked fine. I was the one bleeding on my forehead, at least the glass did not get into my eyes thanks to a big head. When the paramedics arrived on the scene they asked whether we are on medical aid, when all 3 of us said ‘no’, they left with their ambulances.
We then had to get an ambulance from a public institution. It fetched us and took us to hospital. The ambulance which had arrived earlier was from a private company, that is why they left us when they found out that we have no medical aid. To them we were worthless. Contrary to what some would have us believe, we got very good care at King Edward Hospital that night. One of the passengers has broken an arm and the other one was fine, just shocked only.
About 2 years ago, I was in another car accident. This time myself and the passenger had medical aid. The ambulance to her to hospital and I followed in a co-worker’s car. I was treated at the Entabeni Hospital casualty for minor injuries on my left arm. Even though I had medical aid until today I still owe Entabeni Hospital for the portion of what they did on my arm that day. I think it’s the gloves of the nurse and the bandages that the medical aid refused to pay for. I wonder who will eventually pay for those. I also refuse to pay. The details of my battle with Discovery KeyCare are best kept for another day.
About 4 years ago, I took a very close relative to hospital. She tested positive for pneumonia and was admitted. When I left her at Hlabisa Hospital the oxygen outlet was not working. The nurse did not know whether the cylinders at the source were out of oxygen or it is the multiple valves towards the hospital ward that had a problem. Anyway, I left her there hoping the oxygen in the atmosphere will do what the other oxygen was supposed to do. At the dawn of the following morning we received news that she passed away. Because she was very close to me, I thought to myself, as I grieved that perhaps if the oxygen outlet was working she would have lived another 10 minutes or more. I will never know. One day I will write a full story about her.
The deep levels of poverty and lack of development in some areas contribute to straining the limited resources of the public health system. Thus a sizeable number of people continue to suffer and others die from preventable and curable diseases. This situation prevails in a country with some of the best medical facilities in the world. The private health care system continue to be a privilege of the few, if not the very few. It is a crime for against the poor sick people for them to coexist with advanced medical care and treatment, only to die without gaining access to those appropriate services.
In the light of the significant progress the ANC government has done in improving the public health care system in the country, there has been a realisation that a sustained segregation of health care in South Africa hinders faster progress. A lot more can be done to save people’s lives by the private health care industry and the public health system when they work together. The ANC commits, in its manifesto, to introduce the National Health Insurance System which is intended to give practical meaning to the cooperation of both sectors for the benefit of all.
In addition to the NHI, the ANC will continue to improve the skills of public health workers, in particular the managers. This will help manage public hospitals correctly in terms of infrastructure, human resources and stocks of treatment. The ANC will also continue to intensify the struggle against HIV and AIDS through the efficient implementation of the National Plan. As the general public we have to play our role in avoiding the spread of the virus. We have to work together with the incoming government towards a fundamental reduction of new infections. The ANC aims for the 50% reduction over the next five years, we should take responsibility to ensure that the ANC target is met as early as possible in the 5 years and exceeded by the time the 5 years end.
Improved and accelerated service delivery together with social security intervention to fight poverty will continue to play a major role in protecting the poor from preventable diseases such as cholera. The ANC is the only organisation, due to experience, that is able to approach matters of health care as comprehensively.
A vote for the ANC might not necessarily do much for your own health situation since you are already covered by your medical aid, you have clean running water and you can afford healthy food. However, the future of millions of others who are worse off than you are is in your hands. Let’s work together for a better life for all.