COSATU supports SAMATU’s National Day of Action

The Congress of South African Trade Unions endorses and fully supports the planned National Day of Action by our affiliated union, the South African Medical Association Trade Union (SAMATU that is focused on shining the spotlight on the shortage of doctors and exerting pressure on government to address the challenge of unemployed doctors. The union will be convening marches in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KZN, tomorrow 26 January 2023, to highlight this ongoing crisis.

South Africa is not immune to the problem of doctor emigration from low- and middle-income countries, and its scandalous that government has allowed close to one thousand doctors (1000) to sit at home with no jobs. This march is also meant to challenge and expose a government myth that most graduates do not want to work in rural areas.

South Africa suffers from a critical shortage of doctors, while at the same time dealing with a very high disease burden. It is alarming that there are fewer doctors being employed in a country with a doctor to patient ratio of 1:3 198.

The Federation supports the campaign by SAMATU because it speaks to outcomes of the 14th National Congress outcomes that COSATU unions need to be agents of transformation and improved service delivery in the sectors where they are organised.

This campaign is part of the fight for the realisation of the right to decent healthcare for all as stated in Section 27 of the Constitution that: “Everyone has a right to have access to healthcare services”.

At the moment, there are shocking inequalities and problems in our healthcare system. Whilst the healthcare has historically received a lion’s share of the budget in South Africa compared to many countries, only a few have access to good healthcare. The recent budget cuts that were first implemented in 2014 with the freezing of funded vacant posts have made worse an already bad situation.

The government’s obsession with budget cuts has not only suffocated the economy but also undermined service delivery. The unacceptable long patient lines in public health institutions and the unreasonable overtime that doctors are forced to work is pushing the few remaining doctors in the public to the brink of both physical and mental collapse. This coupled with a poor state of infrastructure, management failures, dirty laundry creates a cocktail of a toxic and dangerous workplace.

We call on the government to use the upcoming budget speech to fund the healthcare system and abandon the budget cuts that have pushed the system to a state of near collapse.

We urge all South Africans and other workers to support the SAMATU National Day of Action because the shortage of doctors and the collapse of the healthcare system affects everyone.

The Federation remains fully committed to the transformation of the healthcare system, including the operations of institutions, and the creation of the National Health Insurance.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794