Monday, 22 April, 2024
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Limpopo MEC slams high-flying leaders seeking foreign healthcare

Straight-talking Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba blasted African political leaders’ habit of seeking international healthcare while leaving a collapsing system they could have fixed in their own countries.

Speaking as one of the panellists at a three-day Africa Health Indaba – attended by thought leaders and politicians from across Africa – she said: “When I am sick I can be flown to a five-star medical centre and we don’t care…we die in Turkey and Singapore hospitals.

“When you get to those hospitals it is five-star service, but who is paying for that? The very same poor and vulnerable we have left behind. No African leader must consult in another country. They must fix their own system. Die in your own country and hospitals,” she said to a cheering audience.

Ramathuba said as Health MEC in a province bordering three counries – Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique – her system is overwhelmed and due to a lack of collaboration in the SADC region, there are no solutions or interventions.

“I can complain about undocumented persons in the system but I can’t complain about a mosquito jumping over the border and making our people sick. I can use preventative measures all I want but if my counterparts are not doing the same I will not succeed.”

She added that the healthcare system had not been adapted for African ways of living, reports TimesLIVE.

“If you look at how we were raised, we had a healthy lifestyle. Before we ate meat we had to chase the animal and catch it…losing kilos. Now we eat chickens with thighs bigger than mine.

“When we move from villages and adopt the city life, did our healthcare prepare us for the changes? We created problems for ourselves. We have to develop healthcare systems that respond to our problems.”

Dr Bandile Hadebe, Africa Health Indaba secretariat, said Africans needed to drive research and innovation.

“During Covid-19 on this continent, we had to beg for gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment from other countries. By the time we needed to negotiate for vaccines, we were at the end of the queue.

“We need to stop relying on other continents for healthcare supplies and medication. Healthcare is behind and not catching up with the adoption of technology. We need to get to a point where we think digital first.”


TimesLIVE article – ‘Stop going overseas, fix your own country’s health systems,’ Phophi Ramathuba tells political leaders (Open access)


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Health tourism by Africa's leaders costs their countries dearly


Africa’s medical specialist shortage at critical point – experts


Africa faces 5m shortage of healthcare workers


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Global healthcare systems struggling under increasing pressures




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