On 9 May 2013, SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) received disturbing reports about the shortages of food for patients at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
The information we received indicated that the companies contracted to supply food and bread to the hospital had stopped all deliveries due to the non-payment of outstanding accounts. As a result over the last few days, the hospital department responsible for food services has rationed food, providing patients with small a portion of plain soup with no bread as a substitute for certain meals. However, no mention was made of breakfast or tea. It is unclear whether the hospital planned to provide breakfast or not. We are anecdotally informed that some patients received no breakfast this morning and that food stocks are likely to be exhausted soon.
We contacted the Manager of the hospital’s Food Services, who advised us to contact the CEO as she was unable to make any statement on behalf of the hospital. When we contacted the office of the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Gladys Bogoshi, we were told that she was in a meeting. She was unavailable for the whole afternoon. We left urgent messages with her office, but have received no response.
We immediately addressed a letter to the Head of the Department of Health in Gauteng, in his capacity as the Department’s Accounting Officer in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (PFMA).
While the HOD is ultimately responsible for the payment of outstanding invoices, the CEO of the hospital must be responsive to the needs of patients in the care and custody of the hospital. We call on the CEO to deal with this issue openly and transparently. In this regard, we are advised that two charitable organisations that are willing to assist in providing emergency food relief to the hospital have attempted to contact the office of the CEO since yesterday afternoon without success. The situation is dire and deteriorating by the hour. Patients in all the wards in the hospital are there to receive specialist care and some are particularly vulnerable because they have either undergone specialist medical treatment or are awaiting such treatment. Some patients with cancer, renal diabetes and those who have undergone surgical procedures require special diets but these can no longer be adhered to by the hospital. Patients require the highest levels of care and consideration in a hospital setting.
SECTION27 and the TAC are extremely concerned about the human rights violations occurring at the hospital. The situation is unacceptable and must be addressed by the HOD and the CEO as a matter of extreme urgency. We will continue to monitor the situation.
A copy of our letter is attached.
For more information please contact Umunyana Rugege at 011 356 4120 or 083 458 5677.