New Health MEC taking charge following Esidimeni tragedy
2017/02/22 Thembisa Shologu
MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa has assured communities that extraordinary measures will be taken to rebuild the reputation of the Department following the tragedy that led to the death of over 94 mentally ill patients transferred from Life Esidimeni to various NGOs.
Briefing the Media at the Department’s offices in Joburg, MEC Ramokgopa said that transparency was an important step in demonstrating remorse over the incident, and to affirm that the Public Health Service remains accountable.
“We must ensure the Public Health Service has more than adequate safeguards that are regularly tested and that all systems, policies, programs and persons are rigorously and regularly tested by experts for compliance with policy and law,” said Ramokgopa.
A dedicated team of managers and experts will ensure that the relocation of patients from NGO's to appropriate facilities is prioritized in consultation with families.
“The transfer of patients will be done with the legislation and the procedures, advised by the team of experts that have assessed the patients and the competencies of the receiving facilities that will take care of their specialised needs.
A database of all patients that were discharged from the Life Esidimeni facilities including their medical records was provided to the Department last week, including a list of patients still in the 27 NGOs visited by the team of experts.
“We also have a list of all patients that passed away, we also have a list of unclaimed bodies and those buried as unknowns. We are working with two experts from the Statistician General’s Office, the SAPS and Home Affairs to validate all records so that we can account for all patients.
“To date 1398 patients were discharged from Life Esidimeni, 789 are in the remaining NGOs and there are patients who were discharged and are being cared for at home.”
As per the Ombudsman’s recommendations, The MEC confirmed that five of the NGOs have closed down, the remaining 22 were assessed last week and the process to transfer patients will begin next week.
A dedicated line which will operate on a 24 hour basis from Monday to Sunday has been set up for families to call. The number is 011 5642235 or 011 564 2215 and the public can SMS or WhatsApp on 082 809 0131.