Operation Dudula endangering public health Dr Phophi Ramathuba

Johannesburg. — The attacks on migrants targeted at Jeppe Clinic in Johannesburg by members of Operation Dudula not only endangered individual health, but also public health. 

This is according to Collective Voices Against Health Xenophobia, comprising a consortium of progressive civil society organisations, activists, health care workers and researchers working on issues of social justice and challenging xenophobia within the health care sector. 

“Migrants have been made scapegoats for a public health system in crisis and are targeted to divert attention from severe challenges facing the governance of public health,” the collective said in a statement.

“South Africa’s health care system is not buckling because of the provision of services to a small minority of patients who were born outside South Africa’s borders, but because of massive government corruption, mismanagement, state capture and apathy over many years.” 

Their comments come after Operation Dudula chased away foreign nationals from the health facility during protest action last Wednesday. 

This was not the first time Operation Dudula has infringed on people’s right to access health care which is a right enshrined in Section 27 of the country’s Constitution, the collective pointed out. 

Members had been protesting outside the Hillbrow Community Health Centre in the Johannesburg city centre and Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville, Pretoria in August last year where they were turning people away. 

The consortium warned that these illegal actions resulted in foreign nationals staying away from public health facilities, also preventing them from accessing the Covid-19 vaccine. 

“This will impact on the ability of our country and the region to bring the continued spread of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases, including TB and measles, under control. This is putting everyone’s lives at risk.” 

In addition, the collective mentioned, with “extreme concern”, what it called the escalation of public comments supporting health xenophobia and that have been met with little condemnation or government action. 

“Examples include Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba who in 2022 publicly chastised a migrant patient for ‘killing (her) health care system’, and Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi who stated that non-South African patients “cause overcrowding, (which means) infection control starts failing.” — News24

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