Government's dereliction of duties is heartbreaking - Times LIVE
   
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Government's dereliction of duties is heartbreaking

The Times Editorial | 2012-08-14 00:14:05.0

The Times Editorial: When a government cannot deliver the most basic services to its citizens, it signifies a compromised state.

When those failed services relate to the well-being and education of those citizens, it symbolises a nation at risk. This appears to be the case in South Africa with the increasing chaos in both these departments.

The disheartening story of the basic education system is well-known - undelivered textbooks, unfilled teachers' posts and a host of litigation against a department that is ill-equipped to deliver a quality education to this nation's children.

Now, it seems - even with a minister who is regularly praised for his passionate engagement with the health sector - that many of our public hospitals, too, are in a state of disgrace.

Alarmingly, patterns similar to those we have witnessed in education are emerging in health: essential services neglected, suppliers left unpaid and vital vacancies not filled.

Today's front-page story is shocking in the extreme for various reasons - not least that the situation has been left to spiral out of control, and that Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is in the richest province and is one of the most important academic institutions in the country.

The letters from doctors about the lack of care they are giving their patients because of conditions far beyond their control are a heartbreaking indictment.

We are talking here about ordinary, very poor South Africans for whom a state hospital is the last refuge in terms of healthcare.

But doctors warn of a decreasing capacity to do the most basic things, such as routine ultrasound scans, treatment for cervical cancer and seeing to children. They say they lack the most basic equipment to perform surgeries.

Correcting these deficiencies in government is not complex. It is about doing what is required and what the state promises - hiring staff and paying suppliers. Simple stuff really. Simply Batho Pele, actually.

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