The commission reiterates that section 10 of the Bill of Rights provides that everyone has inherent dignity and has the right to have their dignity respected and protected ... As a result the commission would like to urge government to ensure that the delivery of healthcare services is in accordance with the imperatives of the Constitution, spokesperson Vincent Moaga said in a statement on Thursday.
Moaga said the commission was in the process of preparing a report into its recently held public hearings on the right of access to healthcare services. The report recommendations will shed more light on what is to be done regarding challenges such as staff, space and infrastructure shortages, he said. The Star reported on Monday that three newborn babies were placed in a cardboard box last week, apparently to save space and keep each other warm because of the chronic shortage of space in the hospital's maternity ward, as a result of budget cuts.
The newspaper reported that in 2006/7, a total of 22 746 babies were born at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital. On average, one mother and six babies were reported to have died every week. Moaga said section 28 of the Bill of Rights provided that every child had a right to basic nutrition, shelter, basic healthcare services, as well as the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation, and that the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights. Section 33 provides that everyone whose rights have been adversely affected by administrative action has a right to be given written reasons, he said.
The SAHRC had the powers to investigate and report on the observance of human rights, as well as take appropriate steps to secure redress where human rights had been violated, he said. The Democratic Alliance said the short-term solution to ease problems at the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital was to send patients to private hospitals at a low-cost negotiated rate. Spokesperson on health in Gauteng Jack Bloom said this was not new because the same was done during the public servants' strike. Bloom said it was unacceptable that 100 mothers admitted every day had to share only 16 beds on a rotational basis. Gauteng health spokesperson Zanele Mgandi said a task team had been established to investigate the incident. The task team has completed its investigation and we will be able to issue a statement on its finding later today [Thursday], she said. -- Sapa