The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has castigated Limpopo’s MEC for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba for telling a bedridden Zimbabwean patient that she was part of the burden saddling South Africa’s health care system.
In a statement, SAMA CEO Dr Vusumuzi Nhlapho said it was not in Dr Ramathuba’s capacity to address such issues and there were other sectors of government that are mandated to address the issue of foreign nationals. Health Times cites Dr Nhlapho as saying:
Despite there being a need for a national dialogue to address the matters highlighted, SAMA deplores the manner of addressing this issue by the MEC Ramathuba to a patient at a Bela Bela hospital. The MEC as a leader in the province is aware of the appropriate channels where such matters ought to be raised. Additionally, the MEC has a duty and responsibility to comply with the ethical conduct befitting a healthcare professional who took an oath which clearly states “first do no harm.
The Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) ethical guidelines and the SAMA Pledge solemnise all doctors to a duty of care, respecting the dignity of the patient and fostering the noble traditions of the medical profession without prejudice which in this instance appear to have been contravened.
When people are marginalised or face stigma or discrimination, their physical and mental health suffers. Discrimination of any kind in the healthcare sector is unacceptable and is a major barrier to global socio-economic development. It is contrary to the central principle of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is to ensure that no one is left behind.
In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls on all countries to respect and protect human rights in health – in their laws, their health policies and programmes. WHO maintains that all countries must work together to combat inequalities and discriminatory practices so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of good health, no matter their age, sex, race, religion, health status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or migration status.
The South Africa Department of Health said while Dr Ramathuba might have been out of line and a full enquiry into the issue is currently underway.
Mr Foster Mohale Departmental Spokesperson, National Health Department said it was imperative to note that not all health services were free and only primary healthcare services are provided free of charge and higher levels of care are subject to a fee.