Resort facilities

Blocking access to health facilities violation of the constitution

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has warned that blocking access to health facilities is a violation of the South African Constitution; deprives people of their fundamental rights and is therefore illegal.

“These groups of people have blocked access to health facilities, thereby causing serious disruption in the orderly delivery of health services to vulnerable sick people seeking help in our health facilities,” Phaahla said.

Phaahla was speaking during a site visit to Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital in Atteridgeville, Tshwane on Thursday to assess the impact of the current sporadic protests on access to health services.

Phaahla said the National Department and Ministry of Health have noted with concern over the past few days protests held at some health facilities, particularly in Gauteng.

He stressed that the South African government is constitutionally and legally bound to ensure that its people have access to health care services and that “no one can be denied emergency medical treatment”.

“The right to health in our Constitution is unqualified and should be understood as such. The National Health Act then provides the framework within which a National Health Service will be established which will equitably provide the population of the Republic with the best possible health services that available resources can afford.

“I hereby appeal to the leaders and supporters of the organizations responsible for the lockdowns of our healthcare facilities to end them with immediate effect. As citizens, you must hold the government accountable for the improvement of services, whatever the cause of poor service may be,” the Minister said.

He added that the department would rather not rely on law enforcement to create an enabling environment for health workers to do their best to save lives.

“This is our last resort but of course if we have no other alternative we will call in the police to maintain law and order,” Phaahla warned.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)