Media Statement: Strike update: KZN Dept of Health appeals for public's patience and co-operation, as post-mortems may be delayed

09 March 2023

This statement seeks to update the media and the public on the effects of ongoing illegal protests by people believed to be affiliated to the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU).

As the strike enters its fourth day today, the Department has noted a high rate of staff absenteeism, intimidation of workers, as well as difficulties of access into healthcare facilities, especially at eThekwini, uMgungundlovu and Ilembe Districts, which have been blockaded by the protesters.

All of this has had a dire impact in various critical areas in the public health value chain, such as hospital intensive care and high care units, emergency medical services, obstetric (maternity) wards, accidents and emergency units, orthopaedic wards, casualty, laboratory services, as well as medico-legal mortuaries. Elective surgery appointments have also had to be postponed.

Senior management of the Department has been closely monitoring and evaluating the situation, and meeting at least twice a day, in order to ensure the most effective and adequate response to developments.

Numerous healthcare facilities have been affected in various ways, but those that have borne the most brunt of the strike are those in the aforementioned districts.

The Department has had to implement a contingency plan which entails, among others, the rationing of resources where possible, beefing up of security, as well as alternative means of food supply.

Furthermore, the Department remains extremely concerned that healthcare professionals, with sworn allegiance to professional oaths, are intimidating their own colleagues and preventing the public from accessing healthcare, which is an inalienable human right.

The Department is trying everything within its power to mitigate the impact of the strike, including the expeditious completion of post-mortems.

While the Department continues to monitor the situation closely, we nevertheless wish to appeal to the public to be patient and co-operative, especially where post-mortems may not be completed on time.

Issued on behalf of the administrative head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 11 July, 2023

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