Mpumalanga mum on NHI plans

2012-06-03 10:00
Zinhle Mapumulo
The Mpumalanga department of health has refused to grant City Press access to its clinics and hospitals.

As part of its NHI district review, City Press visits hospitals and clinics unannounced to see whether the facilities are meeting the required standards.

We also set up formal interviews with doctors and administrators to get their input and viewpoints.

So far, Tshwane’s department of health has refused to cooperate – and this week, Mpumalanga also declined.

Mpumalanga’s Gert Sibande district is the province’s NHI test area. Over the next year, it will be expected to roll out big changes to prepare for the proper introduction of the much-vaunted NHI system.

Provincial spokesperson Dumisani Langa was enthusiastic when City Press approached him earlier this month.

On May 3, he asked that we submit a written request explaining our project.

In follow-up calls, he said all was on track. But two weeks later, Langa told City Press we were not welcome in Mpumalanga’s state hospitals and clinics.

He said: “I have spoken to the MEC and the (head of department), and they have refused.”

“They feel uncomfortable about this whole thing,” Langa said.

I have “tried my best” to convince them, he said.

The MEC and department head were apparently upset that City Press had sent them copies of our NHI KwaZulu-Natal coverage to illustrate the project.

“Many reasons were given to me, including the fact that KwaZulu-Natal is not the best example City Press should be using to convince Mpumalanga as that province has better health outcomes than us. They are organised and the health minister seems to like them,” he said.