Social media platforms from Twitter, Facebook and even WhatsApp were in full throttle yesterday with some users criticising Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba for her rant at a bed ridden patient recovering from surgery.
In a video which has since gone viral Dr Phophi Ramathuba is filmed confronting a Zimbabwean national who had just received surgery at a hospital in Limpopo the province just south of the Zimbabwean boarder.
Many critics have questioned the doctor’s behaviour and conduct arguing that she shouldn’t have embarrassed the foreign patient in that manner.
In the video, doctor Ramathuba is heard telling the patient that Zimbabwe must take responsibility for her health issues and not SA, adding that the Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa does not contribute to Limpopo’s health budget.
“You are supposed to be with Mnangagwa. You are killing my health system. When you guys are sick you just say, ‘let’s cross the Limpopo River, there’s a MEC there who’s running a charity department.’
“In Limpopo, we have 5.7-million people, 91% do not have medical aid, they are dependent on the state. The 9% have medical aids. Instead of using the budget for what it’s meant for … You are not even registered anywhere, you are illegal … This is unfair …” she said.
No one disputes the facts laid bare by doctor Ramathuba but it is the way it was communicated and the humiliation of that poor patient that sounded weak and was bed ridden that set social media platforms ablaze and tongues wagging.
Dr Ramathuba who is a member of the ANC should know better, her government should address these issues with their Zimbabwean counterparts and not take it out on helpless Zimbabwean citizens who are fleeing a crisis in their country.
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has all but collapsed due to corruption and mismanagement of government resources.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Doctor Ramathuba said her comments were taken out of context.
“On a daily basis, we have an influx of foreign nationals choking the health system in Limpopo. The situation is getting worse. As a province, we have a backlog of surgical operations, so I started a programme called Rural Health Matter, to reduce the backlog. It’s not xenophobic.
“We started this programme when we had a breather during Covid-19, and we have done more than 4,000 operations.
“I started doing inspections, only to find that the vast majority of people on the list are foreign nationals and the operations they come here for are not even emergencies.”
She said she was waiting for the national government to build an academic hospital for the province.
“In the meantime, the people of this province are looking to me for answers. I have this woman whose son got injured during a soccer game and he cannot go back to school. Instead of being operated on urgently, he had to wait, and his parents are looking to me for answers.
“I have to attract doctors from across the country and ask them favours to operate on weekends, but we are not winning,” Ramathuba said.
She added the patient in the video was not there on an emergency basis.
“If she came here for an emergency or she was pregnant you would be justified in criticising me, but this patient got an accident in Harare. She told me a family friend told her to come to Limpopo, she would get help.”