MEC Gwen Ramokgopa: Updates on transferring 91 percent of mental patients from unlicensed NGOs

Statement by the Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa updating media on progress made in transferring mental health patients to suitably licensed facilities

In keeping with our commitment to manage the transfer of mental health patients to appropriate and suitable facilities, we are pleased to inform the public that we have transferred all patients where there are no outstanding matters within the timeframes agreed upon with the Health Ombud.

We have tried at all times during this process to be as transparent, professional and cautious, so as to ensure patient’s health and wellbeing is not compromised. We have also made huge inroads in addressing all the recommendations of the Health Ombud. We have over the past 96 days, since the release of the report by the health Ombud made significant progress in capacitating the Mental Health Directorate in the Department while refocusing the organisation.

The first relocations began on the 3rd of March 2017. We are pleased to say that all patients except where there are disputes or misunderstandings have been relocated. Thus 91% of eligible patients have been relocated from NGOs to date.

As of 26 April 2017 we had transferred 750 patients to three facilities namely Clinix Selby Park (390); Baneng (232) and Waverly Care Centre (128). Of these patients 63 are not part of Life Esidimeni cohort. It should be noted that some patients remain in NGOs due to various matters such as families and patients refusing transfer, and some owners of NGOs having taken legal action. We are doing our best to attend to these issues and we are hopeful they will be resolved in the best interests of patients.

The patients that are yet to be transferred are currently housed in the following NGOs:

Anani Home 12; Dolphin’s Acre 2; Little Eden Home 1; Mosego 14; Hephzibah 11; Odirile 6; San Michel 4; Bokang 2; and Goitsi-Modimo 15.

With regards to mental patients currently housed in general and psychiatry hospitals they will remain there until they are well enough to be transferred. Of these patients 378 are in long-term stay beds and 50 are in acute care beds at state hospitals. Since the release of the Ombud report, five patients have died due to natural causes. We believe that one death is one too many. In spite of the fact that the causes of death were cited as natural we have instructed that post mortems be conducted and we are awaiting for the outcome thereof.

Closed NGOs

To date we have closed about 20 NGO’s which use to house mental patients. These include: Bophelong Mashemong, House of El Shaddai, Kanana, Lapeng, Maboredi, Rebafenyi 3, Sebo Sa Rena 1, Sebo Sa Rena 2, Siyabadinga, Siyabathanda, Solutions Care Centre, Takalani, Thuli Home Mbali, Thuli Home Zanele, Tshepong and Tumelo home, Ubuhlebenkosi, two facilities under an NGO called Precious Angels, one in Atteridgeville and the other one in Danville (Pretoria West); two NGO’s operating in the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre called Anchor and Siyabadinga; and two facilities under an NGO called Rebafenyi in Erasmia and Phelindaba.

On disciplinary process

The disciplinary hearing for HoD and the Director for Mental Health Directorate has have been postponed until the completion of the Appeals Tribunal process currently underway. Regarding the other officials that were cited in the report a private Attorney has been appointed by the GDoH to investigate the matter and lead evidence for the employer in the disciplinary enquiries, and an Advocate has been appointed to be the Presiding Officer.

I wish to convey my sincere gratitude to the project team that was chaired jointly by the Directors General for the National Department of Health, the Gauteng Provincial Government, Ms Precious Matsoso and Ms Phindile Baleni respectively as well as the Acting HoD Dr Ernest Kenoshi. The team reported regularly to the MEC, Premier and the Minister of Health. I also wish to commend Dr Kerrigan McCarthy and her team. We are humbled by the unwavering support and guidance of the Family Committee who have been working closely with team throughout this process. We also want to thank the media for helping us to keep the public informed as this an important matter of public interest.

A reconstituted team chaired by Dr Eddie Pak, a distinguished psychiatrist is continuing the work with the Department on the relocations where there were disputes or misunderstandings. Our work as the Department will not stop when the implementation of the Health Ombuds Recommendations comes to an end. We are focusing on strengthening relationship with various stakeholders and civil society organisations that are critical for health service delivery. The Department will continue to focus on strengthening the performance management framework for all mental health care services including the strategy that will ensure continuous advocating of mental health.

Measles immunisation campaign

As we aware every three to four years there is a need to have a national campaign against measles. The reason is that there is a gradual build-up of susceptibles to the measles disease. The measles vaccine can guarantee around 95% immunity to the population. That means there shall be around 5% of the immunised population that can get the disease. This 5% of susceptibles continue to add up within the years building up on a large number of people who could easily contract the disease. That is why there is a need to have a nationwide wide campaign that would vaccinate all children against the disease.

We have commenced a 24 days province-wide measles immunisation campaign in response to the current outbreak in the province. We aim to vaccinate around 1 million children between the ages of six months and five years across the province. Since the Johannesburg region is the centre of the outbreak, we are extending the target group to be vaccinated to 15 years of age. The campaign commenced from 2nd May and will conclude on 26th May 2017. The June month will be used to as mop up campaign. Immunisation centres have been set up in all public health facilities. These include clinics, community health centres and hospitals. Parental consent will be required for a child to be vaccinated in crAches and schools. About 17 cases have been confirmed so far, three in Tshwane, one Ekurhuleni and 13 in the Johannesburg region.

Source: Government of South Africa

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