COSATU Gauteng demands swift intervention in water shortages crippling healthcare services  

16 November 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in Gauteng is deeply concerned about the escalating water shortages across the province, severely affecting the delivery of essential healthcare services in hospitals. The dire scarcity of water has led to the regrettable cancellation of approximately 392 critical operations, posing a grave threat to the well-being of patients and the efficient functioning of the healthcare system.

The situation has become untenable, affecting various hospitals in the region. Helen Joseph Hospital experienced seven water supply interruptions during this period, resulting in the cancellation of 36 operations. Edenvale Hospital was forced to cancel 117 operations due to low water capacity in some instances, no water at all. Pholosong Hospital suffered six water failures, leading to the cancellation of 127 operations and the deferral of 36 more. Kalafong Hospital narrowly avoided the cancellation of surgeries after experiencing major water shortages on January 28 and September 9. The recurring disruptions to water supply in these healthcare facilities pose a significant threat to the well-being of patients and the ability of medical staff to provide adequate care.

Water scarcity in healthcare facilities is a matter of utmost urgency, and COSATU Gauteng urgently calls on the Department of Water and Sanitation to take immediate and decisive action to address this crisis. The current predicament not only jeopardizes the health and safety of patients but also places an immense burden on healthcare workers who are tirelessly striving to provide quality care despite the challenging circumstances.

COSATU Gauteng emphasizes the importance of strategic planning and disaster preparedness by the Department of Health. It is imperative that the Department of Health takes immediate and decisive action to address this crisis. The Department of Health needs to implement robust measures, including the establishment of water tank reserves to ensure that healthcare facilities are adequately equipped to handle unforeseen water shortages.

The cancellation of essential medical procedures not only puts lives at risk but also exacerbates the strain on an already overburdened healthcare system. Patients who were scheduled for surgeries are left in limbo, waiting for critical interventions that could significantly impact their health outcomes. This is an untenable situation that demands urgent attention and resolution.

COSATU Gauteng remains committed to advocating for the rights and well-being of workers and citizens alike. We will closely monitor developments in this matter and continue to engage with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to address the water shortages affecting our healthcare system.


Issued by COSATU Gauteng

Provincial Chairperson (Amos Monyela): 079 493 5002

Provincial Secretary (Louisah Modikwe): 066 182 2402