R1.5bn plan to upgrade hospitals

A MEGA infrastructure development project valued at more than R1.5-billion is set to drastically improve the standard at some of the Eastern Cape’s most dilapidated hospitals.

The provincial Health Department said yesterday it had put in place a threeyear master plan to address structural defects at various facilities.

The project will improve services at eight hospitals in the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts and two in Nelson Mandela Bay – Livingstone and Laetitia Bam hospital in KwaNobuhle.

Both the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts are pilot sites for the roll-out of the National Health Insurance scheme.

The department, using its own budget, believes the infrastructure improvements will help overcome challenges like patient safety and infection control.

Architects, quantity surveyors, civil, structural, electrical and mechanical engineers and hospital planners have been appointed to oversee the project.

The team is conducting site inspections this week.

Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said Nessie Knight District Hospital in Qumbu, Isiphethu District Hospital in Ntabankulu, and Khutsong TB Hospital in Matatiele would get up to R300-million each for their refurbishment.

Other facilities that stand to benefit include the psychiatry unit at St Barnabas Hospital in Ntlaza, near Libode, (R100-million) and Mjanyana District Hospital in Ngcobo (R240-million).

A contractor is already on site at Thombo Village near Port St Johns, where work on an R18-million emergency medical service satellite centre for ambulances is taking place.

Yesterday, the team visited Mthatha Regional Hospital, Isilimela Hospital in a remote Port St Johns village and Canzibe District Hospital in Ngqeleni.

Workers and patients at Isilimela Hospital complained about a lack of wards for various ailments, water supply problems, a shortage of beds, cracked walls and leaking roofs, the absence of administration facilities, poor living and working conditions and a lack of privacy.

Kupelo said mainly rural hospitals were being targeted as there was a general decline in conditions there.

“These hospitals were built by missionaries who had no budget but relied on donors for funding.

“On top of the infrastructural problems, is the lack of access to clean water. These facilities are not connected to municipal supply and rely on boreholes,” he said.

Infrastructure chief director Mlamli Thuswa said the department was focusing on investing heavily on infrastructure in the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts.

“From an integrity point of view the buildings are not safe at all,” he said.

-Loyiso Mpalantshane

Leave a Reply