Mpumalanga still struggling to provide Radiology and MRI services in its hospitals

Issued by Jane Sithole, MPL – DA Spokesperson on Health: Mpumalanga Province
15 Apr 2024 in Press Releases

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned that 30-years after democracy we still find South African Tertiary Hospitals like Rob Ferreira, in Mpumalanga, that are struggling to provide Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Radiology services to its patients. 


As far back as 2008, Health-E News reported that Rob Ferreira Hospital did not have a specialist Radiologist or an MRI scanner. Patients needing those services were taken to private clinics. 


In its 2023/2024 budget speech tabled last year, the Mpumalanga department of Health set aside R40 Million for an MRI machine in Rob Ferreira Hospital, but to date this purchase has not materialised. We predicted that the department would not purchase the MRI machine as Health MEC, Sasekani Manzini, and her department are notorious for budgeting, but end up not purchasing the items leading to a total waste of millions of rands. 


Subsequently the DA has also verified that the MRI scan was not purchased as it’s been re- budgeted for in the new 2024/2025 financial year. 


We have been inundated with calls from doctors in the public health sector across the province stating that without the essential MRI scanners, they are unable to diagnose complicated medical conditions early and therefore preventing early treatment and ultimately the loss of life. Public Doctors must rely on XRAY machines which may sometimes not be accurate in picking up the seriousness of injuries in patients involved in car accidents. 


It seems that the Mpumalanga Department of Health has not made MRI scanners a priority in the province. For years now – the Mpumalanga department of health have been acting like they are doing something about the matter of acquiring MRI and Radiology services, but nothing comes out of it: 


In 2018, the Mpumalanga Department of Health and WITS Faculty of Health Sciences signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), committing to a progressive partnership for improved health services. One clinical priority in this MoU was providing Radiology Services in Mpumalanga. What happened to that MoU? 


In 2020, the Provincial Department of Health advertised a tender for the Provision of MRI Services for Rob Ferreira, Witbank, Ermelo and Themba Hospitals. What happened to that tender? 


One would hope that with an increase of R1,4 billion in the provincial health department’s budget for the 2024/2025 financial year; will prioritise the purchase of the MRI machine. 


Clearly the ANC–led government does not care about the patients or doctors in our public healthcare facilities. It is willing to continue to gamble with their lives and choose to not purchase lifesaving equipment.