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Doctors Without Borders says Operation Dudula is turning migrants away from Gauteng hospitals

The South African logo The South African 2022/08/26 Storm Simpson
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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Operation Dudula members are stopping patients from receiving treatment at Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital in Tshwane, Gauteng.

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS SLAM OPERATION DUDULA

The anti-migrant group’s supporters have been protesting outside the hospital for about three weeks.

Operation Dudula chairperson in Atteridgeville, Puleng Tau, told the Pretoria Rekord the group plans to embark on a series of protests in Tshwane.

“We are sick and tired of these foreigners. They must all go. They are taking medication and bed space in government hospitals, which are meant to provide for South Africans and we are saying ‘enough,’” said Tau to the publication.

Kalafong Hospital management distanced themselves from the group’s ongoing protest and told the Rekord they are in the process of obtaining an interdict.

“We are completing a court interdict. We are also in contact with the Human Rights Commission to address Operation Dudula’s protest actions,” said the hospital’s communication officer, Hlegani Makhuvele.

Doctors Without Borders’ Health Promotion Supervisor in Tshwane, Sibusiso Ndlovu, said several patients were turned away by protestors “based on their appearance and accent” on Thursday morning, 25 August.

Ndlovu said protestors were putting hospital staff under immense pressure and even demanded that “critically ill patients who are migrants must be ‘unplugged and taken out’.”

One of the patients denied care at Kalafong Hospital on Thursday was a migrant woman who is 37 weeks pregnant with high blood pressure. MSF said the patient had to seek help from a local clinic instead, which was not equipped to provide adequate treatment.

“When patients are denied the appropriate level of care initially their conditions often worsen and they return as emergency patients. Their risk of becoming more ill or dying is thus greatly increased, as is the cost to the government. Nobody benefits and the most vulnerable suffer disproportionately regardless of their nationality or legal status,” said MSF Medical Activity Manager in Tshwane, Dr Tasanya Chinsamy.

MSF says there is an increasing trend of migrants being denied access to healthcare services by staff – many of the cases recorded by the humanitarian organisation see migrants refused access to maternal and child healthcare, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.

The organisation said hostility to migrant patients is getting worse and claims it is being fuelled by inflammatory statements from government officials – with reference to the recent video clip of Limpopo Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramatuba, scolding a Zimbabwean patient and saying migrants are overburdening the South African health system.

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“One major concern as the politicisation of healthcare expands is that serious notifiable diseases could go unrecorded and untreated, which will inhibit the public healthcare system’s overall capacity and ability to contain infectious disease outbreaks,” said Chinsamy.

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