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This week the Western Cape Department of Health was allocated an additional R332 million to improve services and increase the number of beds at public hospitals in the province. The Western Cape Provincial Treasury provided R129 million of the total in its 2007/2008 Adjustments Budget while the remaining R203 million was released by National Treasury through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). TAC welcomes these additional allocations and we hope that they will lead to improvements in access to, and an enhancement in the quality of, public health care services in the Western Cape. We also hope that the additional finances will lead to the reinstatement of beds which were recently closed at Tygerberg and Groote Schuur hospitals.
Earlier this year Western Cape health officials announced that 90 beds would be closed at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals owing to a shortfall in the department's annual budget. Reductions in the number of beds at these hospitals would have resulted in reduced access to essential services and, consequently, lead to longer waiting times and waiting lists for specialist procedures and operations. TAC and our partner organisations, COSATU, NEHAWU, SAMA, and the Groote Schuur Crisis Committee, have campaigned vigorously for several months to halt these beds closures. Through our actions, which have included mass meetings in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, a candle-lit vigil inside of Groote Schuur and the handing over a memorandum to the South African Human Rights Commission, we have helped draw public and media attention to the negative impact that the bed cuts would have on access to health care services for poor people. Press reports this week suggest that it was because of such pressure brought in the media that the extra allocations to Western Cape health services were made. The announcement of enlarged budgets for hospital based services in the province can therefore be counted as another triumph of citizen advocacy and a victory for poor people's right to access to health care. That said, it remains as yet unclear as to whether the provincial department of health will use these finances towards actually reinstating the beds at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg. We therefore demand that officials at the Western Cape Health Department give an immediate public undertaking to reinstate all closed beds at Tygerberg and Groote Schuur hospitals.
It was also announced that an additional R2.9 billion has been allocated through the MTEF for the National Tertiary Services Grant over the next three years. It remains to be seen however what effect these added finances for tertiary services will have on the implementation of the Western Cape's Healthcare2010 plan. This plan envisages strengthening primary health care services in the province, but at the expense of tertiary services. The plan's commitment to improving primary services is commendable and we support this. But the size of the funding pie should be made big enough to maintain or improve tertiary services as well. As primary care improves, demand for tertiary services will also increase. For example, improved cervical cancer screening at primary care level will result in more demand for specialised oncology services. Increased investment is needed in primary, secondary and tertiary services. Also, the HIV epidemic and population growth have increased demand for all health services. The health-care pie should be made bigger not merely sliced differently.
Furthermore, the Healthcare2010 plan provides for building new hospitals in Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town's two largest townships. These hospitals have been promised for years and according to the plan should be operational by 2010. Yet there is no sign that these hospitals will actually be built and appropriately staffed. It appears so far that the major service cuts in Healthcare2010 are being implemented without the key corresponding service additions.
Now that extra finances have been allocated to funding the province's tertiary services we call on the Western Cape Department of Health to increase capacity at public tertiary hospitals in the province. We further call for substantially greater investment in primary and secondary health-care services, particularly in Mitchell's Plain and Khayelitsha.
For further comment, contact Andrew Warlick on 082 516 8873.
[END OF WESTERN CAPE HEALTH ALLOCATIONS]
15 November 2007
It is close to two years now since Nandipha Makeke's death. Since her rape and murder, the trial of her alleged murders has been postponed 17 times. On two of the last three occasions this was due to the absence of the accused's attorney. Nandipha attended Uxolo High School in Mandela Park, Khayelitsha and was in Grade 10 at the time of her death. She had been a member of the TAC since 2003. Since her death, TAC and Khayelitsha residents have campaigned for the police and public prosecutor to speed up the trial of the people accused of her rape and murder.
More than 52,000 cases of rape and 9,000 cases of indecent assault were reported to the South African Police Services between April 2006 and March 2007. Approximately 50% of rapes have been perpetrated against girls under the age of 18. It is estimated that one in three South African women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. This rate is the worst in the world for a country not at war. Government estimates indicate that only one in nine women who are raped report the attack to the police.
Rape is underreported for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation, lack of education about the law's protections, economic dependence upon the assailant, and feelings of shame about the assault. In addition, children who have been sexually assaulted are less likely to report the attack because the assailant is often in a position of authority over the child and gate-keeps the opportunities for reporting. Only 11% of rape cases result in conviction, creating a lack of confidence in the justice system. The low conviction rate can be linked to a number of causes, including lack of police interest, unwillingness of witnesses to testify, and poor handling of physical evidence.
If this is how long it has taken to get justice for Nandipha's family and friends, this raises the question: How much longer does it take for justice to be done in the vast majority of cases where there is no community mobilization? Nandipha's death has left a hole in the community of Harare and particularly her family. The four perpetrators have brought endless pain to Nandipha's family and friends but the endless delays are also unfair on them as awaiting trial prisoners.
Nandipha's murder can serve a good cause by making the community stand up for the right to justice and make our justice system more efficient. Hopefully this will reduce further crimes like this. The next hearing in the trial of the alleged perpetrators will be on 8 February 2008 at Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court.
For further comment, contact Nosisa Mhlathi on 084 399 0031.
[END OF NANDIPHA MAKEKE STATEMENT]
Report by Fredalene Booysen, TAC Western Cape Co-ordinator
On 8 November 2007 at about 3am in the morning one of our Mfuleni branch members (NM) was raped and assaulted by her husband. During the rape he stabbed her several times and tried to kill her.
Thanks to the support of our Mfuleni branch members and district leader Sylvia Jacobs the case went very quickly to the police and NM's husband was taken to jail. On 15 November 20 TAC Mfuleni members went to support the case and her husband admitted to rape and murder charges.
On 22 November her husband was found guilty of all charges and received 18 years in prison (10 years for rape and 8 years for attempted murder). Her husband is HIV-positive and on antiretrovirals. They have a small child.
As a follow up we'll make sure that NM gets the proper counseling and support to help her deal with what happened. NM is unemployed so we are organising referral to social services so that she can get financial support.
We did not expect the case to give results so quickly. This is a victory for the Tygerberg district and members especially the women that showed leadership and support to NM at a time when she needed them most.
For further comment, contact Fredalene Booysen on 073 206 3611.
[END OF NM STORY]
This week award winning recording artist Annie Lennox released the music video for her forthcoming single SING. SING, the second single from her new album Songs of Mass Destruction, is aimed at raising international awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, particularly the epidemic's toll on women and children, and will be accompanied by a media and web campaign to encourage people to get involved in reversing the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Featuring the vocal talents of 23 major female artists, including Angelique Kidjo, Madonna, Melissa Etherdige, Dido, Pink, Shakira, Fergie and Celine Dion, proceeds from theSING single will be donated to TAC. Also featured on the single are the members of TAC's choir The Generics, whose 2001 song on PMTCT Jikeleleprovides the intro and outro to SING.
Lennox, a long time supporter of the Nelson Mandela Foundation's 46664 initiative and a patron of Friends of TAC (FOTAC) UK, recently spent two weeks with TAC activists in Lusikisiki and Khayelitsha. Footage for the SING video was shot almost entirely in Lusikisiki during her visit and prominently features a number of TAC staff and members from the area as well as Lennox wearing TAC's signature 'HIV-Positive' t-shirt. She is returning to South Africa next week to perform at the Nelson Mandela Foundation's 46664 concert at Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg on 1 December. Lennox has also written the editorial for the next issue of TAC's magazine Equal Treatment which will be released in mid-December.Feinstein on
Lennox's new album, Songs of Mass Destruction, is available now at music outlets and the SING single will be on sale in the first week in December.
TAC would like to extend our sincere thanks to Ms. Lennox, the members of her production crew and all of the individuals who have worked hard to make the SING campaign happen.
[END OF ANNIE LENNOX]