Dying comfortably at hospital

16th March 2017
Ernesto's Briefs


By Ernest Moloi -

I hear some people say that Dorcas Makgato is acquitting herself admirably at that rebranded ministry of Health and Wellness. Good for her. I like the fact that she’s tackling the debilitating incidence of non-communicable diseases head-on by focussing on preventative measures such as eating well and exercising.

Let me hasten though to say that we also need infrastructure at community levels to mount gym facilities in our quest to achieve this noble aim. Certainly, some of the many open spaces that dart the width and breadth of our towns and cities can be utilised for this purpose. They’ll even attract informal traders as members of the community to gather around them to exercise and learn about healthy eating.On the flipside, I am concerned about the quality of our health care system. The growing tendency by our referral hospitals to willy-nilly discharge patients facing imminent death is a cause for serious concern, that requires urgent intervention.

I am aware that our hospitals don’t have palliative care specialists, but to ‘throw out’ terminally-ill patients from an institution with the requisite personnel and equipment to handle such patients into the untrained hands of family members is to say the least, insensitive.

Such conduct persuades one to assume that our health system is vengeful and spites clients for not paying ‘adequately’ towards their health care! Otherwise, why is patient care at private hospitals top-notch? It’s because those that can afford private medical care pay handsomely for the service. In our case, public health care system is beset with malpractice litigation arising mostly from disgruntled patients and their families over alleged negligence; our hospitals are over-crowded thereby rendering care for terminally-ill patients a luxury, hence the hurry by management to offload them to their families without a proper interrogation of the repercussions.

The waiting period is another grey area at our hospitals. Imagine bringing a patient diagnosed with kidney failure to hospital today and he is booked to see a doctor a year from now? This is the reality at our hospitals that Minister Makgato must also address.The masses of our people that patronise these facilities are beginning to sense that our health care system is just a façade, especially that people in high places don’t ever use it: rather they seek the best medical care across the border in South Africa or fly to Europe and the Americas for treatment.

In addition to trumpeting the preventive measures against NCDs, Makgato must also investigate the relationship between the growing incidence of NCDs and society’s consumption of genetically modified foods. Are you not worried that our 20 year olds look like 50 year olds? Our kids grow pot bellies and beards before their dads and girls develop breasts, or get their periods much earlier!Although not a health expert, I suspect our bodies are a product of the foods we consume, and we can’t just blame oil for obesity, there are other factors at play – and certainly GMOs that find their way into our breakfast, lunch and dinners, are to blame.

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