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OHSC statement on disruption of health services by violence and looting

The Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) is deeply concerned that essential healthcare services have been badly affected by the ongoing violence and destruction of property, particularly in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Several medical centres, private practices and pharmacies have been looted, and the vaccination rollout programme has also been disrupted. A ripple effect of the instability has been the obstruction of access to public and private healthcare facilities for both healthcare workers and service users.

The task of the OHSC is to safeguard the safety of users of health services and healthcare workers and to ensure quality services in our healthcare facilities. When we see access to healthcare facilities blocked, medicines looted, blood service premises vandalised, and oxygen deliveries delayed, it is our duty as a regulator in the provision of health services to spell out clearly that such actions are life-threatening and potentially deadly.

The protests have also put additional strain on the health system and healthcare workers, already stretched to the limit by the surge in COVID-19 cases. In areas affected by the violence, healthcare facilities are experiencing an influx of patients seeking medical attention for trauma and injuries suffered in the prevailing environment.

The OHSC would like to appeal to communities to protect and respect the vital role of healthcare facilities and preserve precious infrastructure and prevent the unnecessary loss of life. Around the country, dedicated health professionals have been trying their utmost to improve the quality of care available to the public, including managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OHSC further appeals to all communities to join hands during this difficult time and work together in supporting all healthcare facilities to restore the much-needed health services in the affected areas. Government is urged to accelerate coordinated efforts to halt the destruction in large parts of the country, negatively affecting the economy and seriously affecting the health system and services.
The healthcare sector cannot afford to lose the ground we have gained over the years.

The OHSC is a statutory body charged with promoting quality healthcare by ensuring health services meet prescribed standards. It does so through the inspection of health establishments, the certification of those establishments complying with standards, and the investigation of complaints about poor-quality care.

Issued by the Office of Health Standards Compliance
For more information contact: Ricardo Mahlakanya: Mobile. 066 473 8666, and Email. rmahlakanya@ohsc.org.za.