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Loadshedding hinders hospital sector costing local Government millions to assist those in need  

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By Daanyaal Matthews 

The effect of loadshedding on the economy has been documented thoroughly with some economists arguing that the phenomenon costs the Republic roughly R1 billion a day with every corner of the nation negatively affected, including the health sector.  

The health sector, the backbone of any functioning state, has been in recovery since the Covid-19 pandemic with the sector plagued with understaffing and the strain of loadshedding has not made the job of health professionals any easier. 

Speaking on VOC Breakfast on Monday, Dr. Keith Cloete, Head of the Western Cape Health Department, explains the extent of the damage, stating: 

“If you have regular disruption of energy supply, you disrupt the services you render on a 24-hour basis. So, things like medical equipment, computers, communications, cold-storage, safety alarm systems, fire alarm systems, access control, lighting, all of that, it is massively disrupted for the team of people whose focus is rendering services for patients that need care.” 

The hindrances to the energy supply of hospitals have created a conundrum for doctors as policy dictates that surgery cannot begin while the facility is on backup supply. 

Cloete elaborated that while some hospitals are exempted, the total number of hospitals that are exempted amounts to a mere ten out of fifty-three hospitals in the Western Cape.   

One major facility, the Khayelitsha Hospital, has not been exempted due to how embedded it is in the local grid. Khayelitsha Hospital not being exempted from loadshedding is estimated to cost Provincial Government roughly R1.5 million for the installation of a dedicated feeder to grant it exemption by Eskom.  

However, a far greater issue relates to community health stations, clinics, emergency service stations, and forensic pathology mortuaries, with almost four hundred of them being plagued by loadshedding with some relying on generators. 

‘What we do in the rest of those, in the 193 including the 10 that is exempted, we have generators, but there is a total of 278 that don’t have generators,’ said Cloete. 

The Head of the Western Cape Health Sector has elaborated that the generators have been become a part of daily energy supply which was not their intended purpose thus leading to further breakdowns, causing further hindrances, and costing Government an exorbitant amount, with Dr. Cloete stating: 

‘We use R12 million worth of diesel across these medical centres, so that’s about R50 million in one year for the backup system that we did not budget for.’ 


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