Dr AM Levin offers some suggestions to alleviate and improve the health-care disaster.
Johannesburg – Recent reports reveal the non-availability of certain chemotherapy medication at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
The date for the future supply of this required medication is unknown.
Furthermore, one brachytherapy machine, three linear accelerators and two cobalt accelerators were non-functional.
In addition there were severe staff shortages in the radiotherapy department in which an additional 44 radiotherapists were needed.
To add to the humiliation, this hospital has lost its training accreditation for cardiothoracic surgeons.
It will no longer be allowed to train and graduate specialist doctors.
The Steve Biko Academic Hospital reports a three-month delay in radiation therapy.
Frequent machinery breakdowns have also been reported.
Likewise, a liner accelerator, and CT scanners were unavailable for a 93-day period last year and 164 posts were needed in the radiation therapy facility.
The tragedies pertaining to facilities, medical and nursing staff shortage at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital await official publication.
The above only represent a small percentage of the total inadequacies of both equipment and staffing requirements at government hospitals.
The latter are associated with an embarrassing lack of quality care for patients.
Despite the above deficiencies, the government persists in its unrealistic belief that a National Health Insurance programme will solve the horrendous examples of poor treatment.
Many overseas countries have not had their public health requirements satisfied by a National Health programme.
In consideration of the above, the following suggestions are offered in an attempt to alleviate and improve the health-care disaster.
Our health care should be divided into three groups:
* The first group would be the private sector, which uses private hospital facilities and private medical practitioners and is financed privately through medical aid facilities and through the individual’s personal resources.
* The second group would be those who are employed, but do not earn sufficient income for private medical attention.
These individuals could receive medical attention at private hospitals and private clinics and be treated by private medical practitioners at special rates as negotiated and paid by the government, but which would be much less than the current fully private tariffs charged by hospitals and medical practitioners in the private sector.
This arrangement would help the government in its endeavours to provide adequate and financially viable health-care facilities for all citizens irrespective of their earning capacities.
* The third group of patients would be those who are unemployed and totally dependent on government health care.
They are obliged to attend the government-run and -financed hospitals and clinics, which are staffed by doctors, nurses and other health-care personnel fully paid by the government.
In the above manner, it is envisaged that affordable medical attention will be available to all citizens of this country.
Dr AM Levin
* This article was taken from The Star