Media statement by the KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane, in response to a public demonstration that took place outside Thulasizwe Hospital yesterday

("We are aware of the hidden political hand that is inciting public unrest against the move due to personal interests")

09 February 2023

We have noted a public demonstration by people who are opposed to our plans to reconfigure Thulasizwe Hospital, under Ulundi Municipality, in order to ensure efficient and optimal utilisation of these two healthcare facilities.

Thulasizwe Hospital, which is strictly an MDR-TB treatment facility, is one of the facilities which have been grossly under-utilised for quite some time.

This is due to low TB infection numbers in the area, as well as improved and de-centralised treatment approaches that do not require patients to be admitted.

The facility is overseen by the same management structure that is based at Ceza Hospital.

The Department's plan is to reconfigure the current structure of Thulasizwe Hospital, which is old and dilapidated (it is actually built by missionaries, using clay building blocks, which makes it unsafe, with no scope for further development). We will then build a Primary Health Care Clinic, which will be of immense benefit to the community.

We are aware that there is a hidden political hand, with certain personal interests, that is inciting the community and orchestrating public unrest around this matter, which is extremely unfortunate.

The fact is that as leaders, we have a duty to ensure fiscal responsibility, as well as optimal functioning of all healthcare facilities in the Province, through the correct allocation of resources.

Our broader plan to reposition our healthcare facilities is to eradicate duplication, wastefulness, inadequate allocation of human and material resources. It is to do away with the lack of co-ordination when it comes to the provision of healthcare services, to mention but a few.

Regarding Thulasizwe Hospital, we have long completed a wide consultative process with local leadership, traditional leadership, hospital board, organized labour, and all other relevant stakeholders, including the affected community on this matter.

In fact, the process of rationing services accordingly at all identified institutions in the province was in its final stages when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, resulting in the halting of this process.

This process has resumed at most institutions where it was delayed by the pandemic, and has been unfolding smoothly, without any political interference.

As a Department that presides over a substantial portion of the public purse, we have a responsibility to ensure that all our healthcare facilities function optimally; that our employees are gainfully employed; and that our limited resources are used effectively and efficiently.

We would therefore like to remind those who are opposed to our plans in this regard that hospitals are not political playgrounds, but sacred spaces that deal with critical matters of life and death. As such, they must never be subjected to any undue political interference or disruption of any kind.

Issued on behalf of KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Ms Nomagugu Simelane

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