R2K Gauteng is outrage in hearing about the deaths of 94 mental health patients due to provincial government’s gross negligence. While we note the resignation of Health MEC, Ms Qedani Mahlangu, we believe that all the key players as mentioned in the Health Ombudsman report must face dire consequences for failing the most vulnerable members of our society.
Our healthcare system is in tatters, with people dying at these healthcare facilities on a daily basis and the government continues to fail at holding anyone to account. We hope the Health Ombudsman damning report released yesterday will lead to a more transparent investigation in all provinces.
The Mental Health Care Act, no. 17 of 2002 states that the physical and emotional dignity and privacy of patients must be respected at all times which in this regard, the department has failed dismally. While South African mental health care policies are said to be progressive it seems like these are not filtering down to the people who need them the most especially in low-income areas.
Statistics shows that there’s a huge gap on funding allocated to mental health in this country, we call on the national government to do a feasibility study on what funding models can work best in addressing this immense challenge.
While we recognise the huge role played by NGOs in filling up the gaps and using limited resources, we support the Health Ombudsman’s recommendations that all the NGOs that were found to have been operating unlawfully must be deregistered. We also call on the task team that will be appointed to review the licensing regulations and procedures to operate in a more inclusive and transparent manner.
We also call on the government to compensate the affected families for the pain and distress they had to endure in dealing with this tragedy. We also call on members of society to be more active citizens by being more vigilant and report cases of abuse they witness in such facilities.