Major representative of private hospital groups the Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) is urging the Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla to advocate for both private and public hospitals to be exempt from load shedding. This includes acute care hospitals, day clinics and community clinics around the country.
“Load shedding occurs throughout the country, in areas where both private and public hospitals operate. Therefore, both public and private facilities are affected,” adds the association in a statement issued on Thursday.
It says care for vulnerable patients in both sectors is adversely affected in many ways including:
- Load shedding simultaneously affecting multiple health institutions, further eroding the access to healthcare
- Large-scale degeneration of equipment
- Rising operating costs for generator maintenance, diesel costs, storage, and security
“Most of all, without lights, providing care for the most vulnerable is onerous, and is becoming more so as the lights are off for several hours a day and night, every day, during this latest cycle of cuts.”
This comes after the health department, on Monday, issued a statement noting that Phaahla ordered the director-general and provincial heads of health departments to finalise the assessment of load shedding’s impact on hospitals in the past week.
“Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla has been concerned for some time with this matter of load shedding with the hope that it improves. But it has gotten worse to higher levels of 5 and 6 as it impacts on the provision of healthcare services across the country,” notes the department’s statement.
It says the minister has been engaging with relevant authorities and entities including the Minister of public enterprises, Eskom and municipalities on the processes to be followed to exempt health facilities from load shedding.
“In addition, the minister has been working on alternative additional sources over [and] above the generators, which are not meant for prolonged outages to seek additional supply to be considered for installation in the health facilities to complement the generators as part of the energy mix.”
This follows Eskom’s announcement of an indefinite implementation of Stage 4 load shedding on Wednesday.
The power utility noted in a short statement that a vessel intended to offload diesel at Mossel Bay could not berth due to rough seas.
“Eskom has to therefore preserve the low diesel levels at Gourikwa, while delivery to Ankerlig will take time to replenish as it is done by road tankers. Stage 4 will be maintained until we can resume diesel supplies to the two open cycle gas turbine stations.”
Eskom further indicated that its Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga had a technical problem with water chemistry which led to three units shutting down on Wednesday, with the remaining four units anticipated to shut down later on.
Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.