Deputy public protector lashes at Motsoaledi over foreigners comment

16 November 2018 - 06:30 By Ernest Mabuza
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Image: Sunday Times

Deputy public protector Kevin Malunga has lashed out at health minister Aaron Motsoaledi for a statement he made saying foreign nationals were burdening the South African healthcare system.

Malunga was responding to Motsoaledi's comment, made at the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union’s (Nehawu) Nurses’ Summit in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The SABC reported that Motsoaledi said more hospitals and clinics were needed to accommodate all the local and foreign patients.

Motsoaledi said South Africa needed to re-look at its immigration policies to control the number of undocumented and illegal immigrants in the country.

“The weight that foreign nationals are bringing to the country has got nothing to do with xenophobia… it’s a reality. Our hospitals are full, we can’t control them.

“When a woman is pregnant and about to deliver a baby, you can’t turn her away from the hospital and say, 'You are a foreign national.' You can’t.

“And when they deliver a premature baby, you have got to keep them in hospital. When more and more come, you can’t say, 'The hospital is full now. Go away.' They have to be admitted, we have got no option – and when they get admitted in large numbers, they cause overcrowding, infection control starts failing.”

In a tweet, Malunga said this was a desperate statement by Motsoaledi to address the systemic issues in the Health Department.

Amnesty International also took issue with Motsoaledi’s statement.

Executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, Shenilla Mohamed, said Motsoaledi should stop this shameless scapegoating of refugees and migrants.

“He has been in charge of the health department for almost a decade and should have been fully aware of the challenges faced by the public health system, including the need for more investment, to address the health needs of the growing population. He has failed to take adequate action.

“He is now blaming refugees and migrants to abdicate his responsibility. Minister Motsoaledi should stop fueling xenophobia with these unfounded remarks and take urgent steps to improve access to affordable and quality health care for all persons in South Africa,” Mohamed said.

Amnesty International said South Africa had ratified several international and regional human rights instruments that required the government to respect, protect and fulfill the right to health.

It said the right to health requires health facilities, goods, and services to be available, accessible, acceptable, and of good quality for all persons, free from discrimination.

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