For many years the Eastern Cape healthcare system has been in an unacceptable state. While journalists won awards for exposing the horrible conditions in some Eastern Cape hospitals, there seemed little hope for substantial change until the formation of the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition (ECHCAC) in 2013. TAC and SECTION27 led the establishment of this coalition that now has over 20 partner organisations – including doctors, unions, and patient groups.
In September 2013 TAC and SECTION27 published a report called ‘Death and Dying in the Eastern Cape’. The report made waves at parliament and in the office of the Minister of Health. The Minister sent a task team to the Eastern Cape and soon after announced a number of emergency interventions in the province. The MEC for health Sicelo Gqobana was not reappointed after the May 2014 elections.
Together the coalition members are monitoring progress on the ground and attempting to play a constructive part in fixing the Eastern Cape healthcare system. So far it seems that the new MEC is willing to work with us. However, if ambitious enough steps are not taken we will consider scaling up our advocacy work and potentially even litigating.