JOHANNESBURG– The government of South Africa’s Gauteng Province has roped in the Military Health Services to assist with autopsies as forensic pathology officers from the provincial Department of Health continue with their strike over salaries which started last week and has resulted in the number of bodies at certain mortuaries piling up.
The provincial department of health announced here Thursday that the military officials would be deployed in facilities which had been badly affected to clear backlogs.
Ten operational emergency care practitioners from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been dispatched to Hillbrow Mortuary and Forensic Services, Forensic Pathology Services Germiston and Forensic Pathology Services Diepkloof to help process the pathology services for the benefit of families of the deceased who desperately need to prepare their loved ones for dignified burial and find closure.
SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said: Our involvement is meant as an interim measure to continue rendering vital forensic pathology support to bereaved families until such time that the Provincial Department of Health and its employees resolve their labour impasse,
Gauteng Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa had met members of the affected families on Tuesday and informed them about what the department was doing to resolve the matter and the contingency plans to ensure they were not further inconvenienced so that they could bury their loved ones.
“The Gauteng Department of Health’s main interest in this matter is to ensure that reasonable concerns of all staff are addressed and that services for the public resume as soon as possible,” said Ramokgopa, adding that the department would do everything in its power to ensure bereaved families were assisted and supported, while engagements with forensic pathology officers (FPOs) continued.
Forensic pathologists are available to perform autopsies, but they need assistance from FPOs with evisceration and dissections. The work-to-rule action has not only inconvenienced families who had travelled from far to collect the bodies of their loved ones for burials, but will also affect the justice system, which refers certain cases to pathology services for further examinations, said Ramokgopa.
At a meeting with the FPOs on Monday, the department committed to counselling and debriefing sessions to be reinstated for use by employees as needed. An audit of critical equipment and protective clothing will be conducted with immediate effect. The department also committed to the implementation of the danger allowance and the reversal of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) remuneration scales.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK