Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "It is morally unacceptable that 36 psychiatric patients died within months of being moved from the Life Healthcare Esidimeni Centre to local NGOs and other facilities, without any intervention by Gauteng Health Department", said a statement signed by His Exc. Mgr. Abel Gabuza, Bishop of Kimberley and President of the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference.
In expressing the closeness of the Church to the families of victims, Mgr. Gabuza, says: "while awaiting the results of the investigation by the health department, we wish to register our deep concern that Gauteng health department did not heed to warnings from the civil society and the families that the cancelling the contract with Esidimeni Centre and the transfer of patients should not be rushed".
Mgr. Gabuza only criticizes the economic approach. "The health department terminated its agreement with Life Esidimeni because it was costing R11,343 (about 728 euros) per patient per month – adding up to almost R324-million a year (about 2.1 million)" . An exorbitant figure, recognizes the Bishop, who asks for greater controls on health care costs, but does not exempt the authorities from providing adequate medical care to the population. "A health system that puts profit before people, and without adequate measures for cost control, is both unsustainable for the country and a death sentence to the poor". "The mentally ill are precious before God. The lives of the mentally ill should therefore be considered to be more important than the dictates of fiscal efficiency and profit making", the Bishop concluded. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 20/09/2016)