VOICES | Healthcare Profession Is Dysfunctional

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Opinion Article By Solam Yves Ludidi

“When a woman is pregnant and is about to have a baby, you can’t turn her away from a hospital and say she is a foreign national,” once said former health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi. His statement was a fit subject for discussion, as South Africa’s healthcare profession is deteriorating year-in and year-out. So, improper professional conduct of nurses and doctors is a matter for serious concern. 
In an interview with News24 on May 31, 2016, acting general secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), Cassim Lekhoathi said: “Posts at hospitals and clinics are not being filled and this had added pressure onto the limited staff at hospitals. We believe the failure to employ more nurses, has contributed to a large number of malpractices, especially in maternity”.
The Stanza Bopape Clinic in Pretoria is just one in many cases of what Lekhoathi made an example of. That is a health facility with only two midwives and a student nurse, let alone not having a doctor. The question is: What would then happen if a cesarean delivery is the only option at hand, for example, in a health facility such as Stanza Bopape Clinic without a doctor?
For me it does not make sense at all, because midwives are just nurse practitioners with additional training in midwifery. They are not surgical practitioners. That said, the clinic’s semi-birth-like atmosphere is disgusting and the Health Department is to blame for it. Mind you, this is the same healthcare facility where a woman in labour pains, was allegedly turned away by its nurses. As a consequence, Elina Maseko from Mamelodi gave birth outside the gates of the healthcare centre. 
The nurses’ excuse was that “because of her age she is too high risk”, and referred her to Mamelodi Regional Hospital. But it makes me wonder, they were properly trained about the nursing standard that says: “Women who are a high risk of complications need closer monitoring”. Such kind of conduct discredits the healthcare profession.
According to the South African Nursing Council (SANC), nurses are at all times expected to observe and apply fundamental ethical principles. Among others, this includes acting fairly equitably related to access of healthcare. This is by means of applying positive emotions, that will benefit both the nurse and healthcare user.
A 2015 report by Wits University revealed that over 60 percent of nurses admitted, they felt too tired to work while on duty. Nurses and doctors continue to leave South Africa for greener pastures abroad. The reason being that medical practitioners are underpaid and overworked, resulting to them shadowing their profession. You know, it is of no use to come up with laudable strategies that are not even implemented.
As a civilized society, we can’t allow impunity to prevail. If this problem is not taken seriously by the government, then our healthcare system would definitely degenerate to something else.
Let us take heed of what Abel Pienaar once said: “The lack of investment in clinical-specialization both in the public and private sector, puts additional pressure on an already shrinking pool of expertise. If we don’t train and educate these healthcare professionals, we run the risk of producing nurses with mediocre-competency, inevitably resulting in suboptimal patient care”