ANC President Jacob Zuma addresses delegates at the 54th ANC National Conference taking place in Nasrec.
Image: Masi Losi

The country has suffered a serious setback in healthcare due to the deaths of over 100 mentally ill patients‚ President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

Zuma described the deaths of Life Esidimeni patients in Gauteng as a "monumental and painful tragedy".

"We look to the alternative dispute resolution arbitration process that is being presided over by retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to assist in reaching a final resolution to this tragic episode in our country‚" he said.

However‚ he praised government efforts in providing care to people living with HIV/Aids.

"South Africa has the largest HIV treatment programme in the world‚ with 4.2 million people on treatment. As a result‚ people are living longer. Life expectancy was 54 years in 2008 and it is now 64 years‚" he said.