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By Citizen Reporter


Phaahla exploring options to exempt health facilities from load shedding

The minister is expected to address the media on Friday, on measures to deal with the rolling blackouts at health facilities.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla says the Department of Health is exploring its options to ensure the country’s health facilities are not severely affected by the intermittent bouts of load shedding implemented by Eskom.

Load shedding crisis

On Monday, Phaahla responded to calls by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and other organisations for government to exempt all hospitals from the rolling blackouts.

ALSO READ: ‘Stop load shedding hospitals,’ HPCSA asks government

The minister said he had been concerned for some time about the protracted power outages on health facilities, hoping that the situation would be improved.

But he said the power cuts had gotten worse over time and negatively impacted the provision of health care services across the country.

In order to assist health facilities amid the intermittent blackouts, Phaahla said he was engaging with the relevant authorities and entities including Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, Eskom and municipalities on the processes to be followed in order to exempt healthcare facilities from load shedding.

“In addition, the minister has been working on alternative additional sources over-above the generators, which are not meant for prolonged outages to seek additional supply of power to be considered for installation in the health facilities to complement the generators as part of energy mix,” the Health Department’s spokesperson, Foster Mohale, said in a statement.

Phaahla is expected on Friday to give a comprehensive report, during a media briefing, on the impact and the intervention measures to deal with load shedding at healthcare facilities.

Calls to exempt hospitals from load shedding

Last week, the HPCSA said hospitals in the country were buckling under pressure due to the various stages of load shedding.

It said the rolling power cuts had created more strain on a healthcare system already stretched too thin.

“Load shedding has negatively impacted the provision of quality care in all our health facilities, and placed an enormous strain on the health practitioners on their daily routine of work.

“Healthcare practitioners in the hospitals are unable to perform emergency surgeries timeously because of load shedding and this has put the lives of the patients at risk,” the HPCSA said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Limpopo Department of Health on Monday raised concerns about the impact of load shedding on the water supply at health facilities.

It said the power cuts were disrupting the pumping of water, which resulted in most facilities relying on water tankers from municipalities.

The department’s spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said Polokwane Provincial Hospital was severely affected and because of this, all elective operations were cancelled and the focus was on medical emergencies.

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

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