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SA Parliament: Health committee chair says even during lock-down, oversight is important

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Cape Town, Parliament, Friday, 27 June 2020 – This week, the Portfolio Committee on Health completed its oversight visit in Gauteng. The committee started its oversight in the province at the beginning of June with three provinces: Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. The committee focused its oversight in provinces with a heavy Covid-19 burden.

“Even during the lockdown period, the committee felt it was important to do oversight in these four provinces, as there are challenges.”
 
On Tuesday in Gauteng, the committee went to Bertha Gxowa, Tembisa and Netcare Linksfield hospitals. On Wednesday, the committee continued its oversight at Chris Hani Baragwanath and Leratong hospitals. The committee could not continue its oversight at Kalafong Hospital.
 
Dr Dhlomo said during the oversight that the committee has noted a significant improvement in the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in all these hospitals. The hospitals now have daily meetings and workers are represented in these meetings. This involvement has helped to address many of the tensions in the work space around the management of Covid-19.
 
The committee notes the testing backlog at the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) has not been well resolved. However, innovative programmes to fast-track the testing of healthcare workers have been introduced.
 
On infrastructure readiness, Chris Hani Baragwanath is prepared as has opened a new ward that has been reconfigured for Covid-19. At Tembisa Hospital programmes need to be accelerated. At Leratong Hospital, the committee found that it has expanded beyond its capacity in terms of space availability. The committee is unhappy with the Bertha Gxowa Hospital infrastructure plan and notes that the hospital is not meeting its own deadlines on its programmes. Dr Dhlomo urged the hospital to speedily address the delays, as Covid-19 is now upon us.
 
Among its observation, the committee said that Covid-19 has taught us to be proactive in filling staff vacancies, as under-staffing hampers delivery of services during the pandemic.
 
Netcare Linksfield Hospital has learnt from the lessons shared by St Augustine’s in KwaZulu-Natal and is now dealing with the pandemic more efficiently.
 
Dr Dhlomo said that progress will be achieved through adhering to social distancing, washing your hands, sanitising and staying at home as much as possible.

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