Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has warned that blocking access to health facilities is a violation of the South African Constitution; deprives people of their fundamental rights and is consequently illegal.

“These groups of people have been blocking access to health facilities thus causing serious disruptions to the orderly provision of health services to vulnerable ill people seeking help at our health facilities,” Phaahla said.

Phaahla was speaking during a site-visit to Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital in Atteridgeville, Tshwane, on Thursday, to assess the impact of the current sporadic protests on access to health services.

Phaahla said the National Department and Ministry of Health have noted with concern over the last few days organised protests at some health facilities, especially in Gauteng.

He emphasised that the South African Government is obliged by the Constitution and the Law to make sure that its population has access to health care services and that “no one may be refused emergency medical treatment”.

“The right to health in our Constitution is not qualified and must be understood as such. The National Health Act goes on to provide the framework through which a national health service will be put in place, which will provide in an equitable manner the population of the Republic with the best possible health services that available resources can afford.

“I am hereby making a call to the leaders and followers of the organisations responsible for the blockades of our health facilities to stop these with immediate effect. Yours as citizens is to hold the government accountable for improvement of services whatever the cause of poor service might be,” the Minister said.

He added that the department does not prefer to rely on law enforcement to create an environment conducive for health workers to do their best in saving lives.

“That is our last resort but of course, if we are left with no alternative, we will call on the police to keep law and order,” Phaahla warned.

Source: South Africa Government News Agency

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