Launch of People’s Health Manifesto: TAC demands accountability from politicians
TAC to march on office of Premier Ace Mashagule
BLOEMFONTEIN, 20th MARCH 2014: The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and partner organisations marched on the office of Free State Premier Ace Mashagule to demand he takes concrete steps to bring an end to the severe problems in the Free State health system. The march forms part of TAC’s campaign to hold politicians to account through our People’s Health Manifesto. The People’s Health Manifesto contains 11 questions that we are putting to all political parties ahead of the May 7th general elections.
The People’s Health Manifesto is a manifesto from the ground. The TAC consulted widely with communities across the country to ensure that the manifesto reflects the real needs of people who depend on the public healthcare system. (The full manifesto can be downloaded here: www.tac.org.za/files/tac_electionmanifesto_booklet3.pdf). While the issues identified in the People’s Health Manifesto reflect conditions in many provinces, we have chosen to focus on the Free State due to the particularly dire state of this province’s health system.
– A recent report by the Stop Stock-outs Project (of which TAC is a member) found that the Free State had the highest percentage of health facilities experiencing stock-outs of HIV and TB medicines of all provinces. In the manifesto we ask political parties what concrete
steps they will take to bring an end to such stock-outs. (The SSP report can be found at www.stockouts.co.za)
– Free State MEC for Health Benny Malakoane is currently facing serious charges of corruption. In our manifesto we ask whether political parties will suspend MECs or other office-bearers who face
such serious charges.
– TAC leaders in the Free State have in recent months been subjected to death threats. One TAC member was fired from his position at the Provincial AIDS Council under spurious circumstances. Requests from TAC leaders to meet with MEC Malakoane to discuss these events have been rejected. In the manifesto we ask political parties to reject all forms of intimidation and whether they will commit to only appointing suitably qualified and committed MECs.
Over the past few days we have visited many suburbs and informal settlements in the Mangahung area. We were particularly shocked at the lack of services in the Khayelitsha informal settlement near Grasslands. There is no clinic that serves this community of roughly 50,000 people. While a mobile clinic for children visits the area twice a month, adults have to travel ten kilometres to their nearest clinic – a clinic that is often only open from 10:00 to 14:00. This makes it expensive and difficult for people in this community to access HIV and TB treatment or prevention tools such as condoms. There is also no clean running water in the area.
“Even though it is in a major South African city, the poor conditions and lack of healthcare services in the Khayelitsha/Grasslands area are worse than what you’d expect in the most neglected rural areas,” says
TAC national Chairperson Anele Yawa. “It is a disgrace that the Free State department of Health has allowed this situation to develop and to persist.”
We marched to ask the premier what he plans to do about the collapsing public healthcare system in the province and what he will do to improve the lives of people living in communities like Khayelitsha Grasslands. #ENDS
For media enquiries contact: Anele Yawa, TAC National Chairperson, 073 555 8849