Health body calls for healthcare facilities to be exempt from load shedding

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The Health Professions Council of South Africa has asked Eskom to exempt healthcare facilities from load shedding.

Eskom has implemented phase 5 load shedding due to blackouts, causing blackouts in hospitals and clinics, which the health body says is creating more strain on the already overstretched health system.

There are more than 400 public hospitals and more than 3,000 public clinics across the country that depend on Eskom.

The chairman of the Health Professions Council of South Africa, Professor Simon Nemutandani, says the power cuts have undermined the provision of quality health care.

“Health practitioners in hospitals are unable to perform emergency surgeries in a timely manner due to load shedding and this has put the lives of patients at risk. These health facilities are also hubs used for undergraduate internships and postgraduate training of healthcare professionals who are also negatively affected by load shedding.

Professor Nemutandani says that more than 80% of South Africans depend on public health services and that the stages of implementing load shedding and the lack of a robust contingency plan have proven disastrous in the environment of the health care, with varied and profound consequences.

He says power outages put critically ill patients who rely on life support devices at risk.

“While private establishments and public hospitals at secondary and tertiary level seem to be well equipped with generators. The performance and lifespan of medical equipment and devices are negatively affected by power outages.

“On the other hand, small health facilities, including primary health care clinics that are not equipped with generators, are often left in the dark,” Nemutandani said.

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