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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

PICS: Activists demand immediate opening of Charlotte Maxeke hospital

Defend our Democracy campaign says the hospital should be opened soonest as patients are suffering.

Activists from Defend our Democracy held a picket outside Joburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital on Sunday demanding that full health services resume at once.

Charlotte Maxeke hospital fire

Parts of the hospital caught fire in April last year, forcing it to close.

Some services resumed weeks later while most patients were referred to other hospitals such as Chris Hani Baragwanath and Bertha Gxowa, which were already overburdened with patients.

Services halted, repairs stalled

In December last year, desperate medical staff at the hospital requested President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and set up a task team to speed up repairs.

Months later in January, CEO Gladys Bogoshi sent a call for help to the disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers, asking them to assist with repairs as government stalled.

Detailing progress at a press conference last week, the provincial department said the health institution would be fully operational by the end of 2023.

Provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said Premier David Makhura signed a proclamation to transfer all functions relating to the refurbishments of the hospital from the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) to the national Department of Health.

ALSO READ: National health dept roped in to repair Charlotte Maxeke hospital

‘Patients are suffering’

Defend our Democracy convenor Fazel Randera said patients who are unable to get treatment at the hospital were suffering.

Charlotte Maxeke hospital
Supporters of The Defend our Democracy Campaign picket outside the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital on Sunday. Picture: Citizen.co.za/Jacques Nelles

“Let’s fix and open this hospital as quickly as possible. It looks like we looking at long period of time, until 2023, when the hospital gets back to normal.

“The emergency unit is still closed. Several departments are closed and staff and visitors cannot park their cars inside, so there is also a safety factor at play,” Randera told news channel Newzroom Afrika.

He added that he hoped Makhura will tackle the matter in his state of the province address (Sopa) on Monday.

Also present at the picket were medical doctors and managers, who spoke about the problems they faced while working inside the torched Charlotte Maxeke hospital.

ALSO READ: Tambo Memorial Hospital a shame to stalwart’s name

Makhura’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said the hospital’s operating bed capacity was at over 600 after the fire, down from an initial 1,068 beds.

“There are people on site working to repair the hospital. The preliminary view from the project manager is that full services will resume by October 2023. The emergency unit will be [completed] and handed over next month.”

Regarding the picket, Mhaga said the activists were an important part of the country’s democracy.

“We agree with them, they’re correct in reminding that government deliver, and that is why the premier signed a proclamation [to move repair work to the national Department of Health] to make sure work is fast-tracked.”

NOW READ: Parts of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital to be fully operational in 2023

Charlotte Maxeke hospital
Supporters of The Defend our Democracy Campaign call on government to reopen critical wards at the hospital. Picture: Citizen.co.za/Jacques Nelles

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