Civil society calls on the public to report cases of health xenophobia to the Health Ombudsman

Civil society calls on the public to report cases of health xenophobia to the Health Ombudsman

Although several Civic organizations expressing concern On preventing some pregnant and lactating immigrant women from accessing some public health facilities, Health Ombud spokesperson Ricardo Malacaña confirmed that the office has not received and has not received any complaints related to such a matter.

The issue in question was the subject of a ruling by the Gauteng High Court in April, which “upheld the right of all pregnant and lactating women and children under six years of age, regardless of nationality and documentation status, to access free health services at all public health institutions, including hospitals,” it says in statement From Section 27.

The same statement – issued on 4 July 2023 – called on the Health Ombudsman to “initiate an investigation into South Africa’s systemic health xenophobia and hold the institutions and their management accountable”.

For an institution and administration to be held accountable by the health ombudsman, a complaint must be submitted to the health institution concerned. If not resolved, the application must be submitted to the Ombudsman within two years of the alleged misconduct.

After submission, the regulator proceeds to “consideration, investigation and disposal of complaints in the national health system (private and public health institutions) related to non-compliance with the established rules and standards,” according to the Ombod site. It does so in order to “protect and promote the health and safety of users of health services”.

An investigation of each claim is followed by a recommendation for action, which the CEO of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) ensures is promptly implemented. This is an important aspect of protecting public health facilities and providing quality services to health service users where immediate change is imposed on the current situation.

A health worker pulls a stretcher bed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick)

Healthy xenophobia

The court rulings — related to access to free health services at all public health institutions — don’t necessarily change anything on the ground, however — a fact noted by Dale McKinley of Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (Kaax), a coalition of organizations campaigning against xenophobia.

In particular, it talks about the inadequate treatment and care that migrant women received from some healthcare professionals in several public health facilities in central Johannesburg. These were two categories of misconduct Well documented by Az It falls within Ambod Health standards.

The other categories are “inappropriate conduct by a healthcare facility,” as described on the Health Ombud website, “poor quality healthcare service provided by a healthcare establishment,” and “unsatisfactory management of a complaint by a healthcare establishment.”

Any of these acts of misconduct can be filed by “all members of the public, health care users, and anyone on behalf of a relative, minor, or other person,” the website notes.

The coalition and its partners plan to file a formal complaint about health xenophobia with the Office of the Health Ombudsman, said Marlise Richter, a member of the Collective Voices for Health access steering committee and researcher for the Health Equity Initiative. They are currently collecting evidence from affected patients to file a comprehensive complaint.

Earlier An open letter to the Minister of Health On Healthy Xenophobia, the gathering—previously called Collective Voices Against Healthy Xenophobia—is described as “a coalition of civil society organizations, activists, healthcare professionals, and researchers working to advance social justice and challenge xenophobia in the healthcare sector.”

Ambod Health

Patients wait outside a clinic in Aliwal North. It is usually a long wait for most patients to get help in the clinics due to a shortage of materials. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick)

However, a complaint was filed by Kaax and Lawyers for Human Rights with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) in January about the misconduct of Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba. It has received support from seven other civil society organizations such as the Cure Campaign, Section 27 and the Helen Suzman Foundation.

Dr. Ramathoba was caught on video explaining to a Zimbabwean that she and other Zimbabwean health workers are draining the resources of the health system in the Limpopo province.

Read more at The Daily Maverick: Court rejects Limpopo MEC Health’s bid to quash investigation into its ‘killing my health system’ remark

In January, the HPCSA’s Medical and Dental Professions Council announced its findings on investigating and sanctioning the complaint, as it was in violation of regulations in the Health Professions Act and imposed a “caution and reprimand” penalty on it.

Dr Ramathoba rejected January’s findings and sentence and is due to appear before the Pretoria Medical and Dental Council’s Professional Conduct Committee from 25-27 July. DM


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