We find it morally unacceptable that 36 psychiatric patients died within months of being moved from the Life Healthcare Esidimeni Centre to local NGOs and other facilities, without any intervention by Gauteng Health Department.

The families and the whole country need answers.   We send our heartfelt condolences to all the families of the affected families.

While awaiting the results of the investigation by the health department, we wish to register our deep concern that Gauteng health department did not heed to warnings from the civil society and the families that the cancelling the contract with Esidimeni Centre and the transfer of patients should not be rushed.

We have noted that the health department terminated its agreement with Life Esidimeni because it was costing R11,343 per patient per month – adding up to almost R324-million a year. Unaffordability of the services at Life Esidimeni underlines the need to address the crisis of rising health costs in our country.  We continue to ask the health department to put adequate measures to ensure sustainable levels of control to health care costs.  We reiterate our position that a health system that puts profit before people, and without adequate measures for cost control, is both unsustainable for the country and a death sentence to the poor.

We also warn the health department not to use the pretext of deinstitutionalisation of mental health care to shirk on its constitutional responsibilities to provide adequate care to the mentally ill.   As a society, we should never forget that the lives of the mentally ill are precious before God.  The lives of the mentally ill should therefore be considered to be more important than fiscal efficiency and profit making.

 

For further information, kindly contact:

Bishop Abel Gabuza

Tel. 053 831 1861 or 053 831 1862.

Email: dagabuza@gmail.com