By Staff Reporter
Amnesty International has warned the South African government against fueling xenophobia by blaming refugees and migrants for the collapse of the country’s health system.
Responding to a statement by South Africa’s health minister Aaron Motsoaledi that foreign nationals were behind the overcrowding of hospitals and the struggling health system in the country, the global human rights watchdog said such a statement was careless.
Amnesty International Executive Director for South Africa Shenilla Mohamed challenged Motsoaledi to show what he had done to improve the situation after being health minister for over 10 years.
“Minister Motsoaledi should stop this shameless scapegoating of refugees and migrants. He has been in charge of the health department for almost a decade and should have been fully aware of the challenges faced by the public health system, including the need for more investment, to address the health needs of the growing population. He has failed to take adequate action,’’ said Mohamed in a statement released Thursday.
“He is now blaming refugees and migrants to abdicate his responsibility. Minister Motsoaledi should stop fueling xenophobia with these unfounded remarks and take urgent steps to improve access to affordable and quality health care for all persons in South Africa.”
On Wednesday this week, Motsoaledi said the collapse of healthcare systems in most African countries was choking South Africa’s healthcare allocation.
He said that when denying allegations that a Democratic Republic of Congo asylum seeker was turned away by three different hospitals in Gauteng, which resulted in her giving birth at Gautrain Park Station in the Johannesburg central business district.
The minister claimed that at some point former finance minister Pravin Gordhan asked to be schooled on why Gauteng hospitals often over-expended their operational budgets.
“I could only take him to Steve Biko Academic hospital here in Pretoria because it is closer [presumably to Union Buildings], and he attended management meetings there,” Motsoaledi explained.
‘’During the course of the meeting, Gordhan was taken to the labour ward, where the majority of the patients were foreigners.’’
Motsoaledi said that had huge financial implications on the system.