The health system is hard hit by crime within our communities
STATEMENT BY DR NOMAFRENCH MBOMBO
WESTERN CAPE MINISTRY OF HEALTH
The national crime stats released this week revealed that residents within the Western Cape are exposed to dangerously high levels of crime, specifically those crimes related to interpersonal violence.
The sharp increase in interpersonal violence cases negatively impacts on the services available within the health system. This is because interpersonal violence is a major contributor to the pressures we experience especially within our Emergency Centres (ECs) which causes delays in the treatment of many elective procedures.
Patients requiring emergency treatment as a result of violent injury often take preference.
We also experience pressures on other service platforms such as our clinics (long waiting times), Forensic Pathology Services (a longer wait of routine cases due to a high number of compulsory autopsies) and Emergency Medical Service (where life-threatening emergencies cause long waiting for other patients), as well as delays caused by safety concerns in violent communities.
“In the case of EC’s within crime ridden areas, we find that a large number of people present with interpersonal violence injuries relating to gun shot-, and stab wounds. At facility level we feel the level of crime that’s happening outside within communities” said Minister Mbombo.
The violent crime stats reflected in the national statistics, are reflected within our health system. Just during the last few months, some of our facilities reported a steep upsurge in gunshot wounds and stabbings:
Since 1 Jan – 30 Aug:
- Victoria Hospital – 129 gunshot wounds and 259 stabbings
- Red Cross – 17 gunshot wounds (10 were in Aug) and 8 stabbings
- Retreat Community Health Centre (CHC) – 174 gunshots and 686 stabbings
- Mitchells Plain Hospital – 110 gunshots and 398 stabbings
- Gugulethu CHC – 162 gunshots
- Mitchells Plain CHC – 129 gunshots and 725 stabbings and assaults
- Hanover Park CHC - 15 gunshots, 1629 assaults including stabbings
Western Cape Government Health supports the calls for additional policing resources in communities where violent crime is the highest. Communities, government and civil society further need to continue fostering a whole of society approach towards reduce the harms associated with social ills such as alcohol and drug abuse.