A court in Pretoria concluded today that the negligence of two members of the South African Government caused the deaths, between 2016 and 2017, of some of the psychiatric patients who were transferred to centers of unapproved care.In those years, at least 144 psychiatric patients died from pneumonia, dehydration or diarrhea following their transfer to unprepared facilities.According to a Government survey, more than 1,300 patients were rushed to 27 facilities “ill-prepared”, compared to “concentration camps”, as part of a cost-cutting measure. Patients’ families were not informed of their transfer. In October 2015, the Gauteng Ministry of Health, the province where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located, announced the termination of contracts with several Esidimeni hospitals, specializing in long-term psychiatric hospitalization.The director of the Gauteng provincial health department, Qedani Mahlangu, made this decision “despite numerous advice from experts and the advice of professionals”, declared the Trial Court judge, Mmonoa Teffo.Qedani Mahlangu resigned following the scandal.”His conduct led to unfortunate and regrettable deaths, some of which could have been avoided ” said the judge. A report by the country’s health monitoring organization concluded that the centers did not provide enough water and food to the weakest patients, leaving them severely malnourished. The head of the provincial mental health department, Makgabo Manamela , also accused, inspected the care centers at the time, which were “poorly equipped”.”She created the circumstances that made these deaths inevitable”, added the judge.Interviewed by a local television station, Andrew Pieterson, a family member of one of the victims, believes that the authorities “must be held responsible” for this tragedy. In 2018, the South African Government announced that it had reached an agreement to compensate each family with 200,000 rand (10,200 euros at the exchange rate). The amount was intended to compensate for funeral expenses, as well as the emotional and psychological trauma caused by the tragedy. Some families have not yet been compensated, according to Andrew Pieterson.”The Ministry of Health will respond formally and publicly after analyze the sentence and its implications,” Ministry of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale told the news agency France-Presse (AFP). (RM-NM)Source:Rádio Moçambique Online

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