True heroines & heroes - our health workers
NOT LONG AGO, our Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, was cared for and underwent a highly successful liver transplant operation at the Johannesburg General Hospital and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre. This has succeeded to restore her to full health and enable her to resume her public duties.
On behalf of our movement, the ANC, in all humility, I would like to thank all the surgeons, the physicians, the technicians, the nurses and the general staff at the Johannesburg General Hospital and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre for everything they did which has made it possible for a tried and tested cadre of our movement, a true and devoted servant of the masses of our people, to resume her place in the frontline of the noble struggle to build ours into a caring and people-centred society.
Excellent medical practice
Some among the highest qualified and experienced medical practitioners in our country have communicated the important message that the success achieved by the doctors and staff at the Johannesburg General Hospital and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre is a bright star that shines as an outstanding achievement in the practice of medicine throughout the world.
This relates to the success of the delicate and complex operation to accomplish the liver transplant, the post-operation hospital care, and the attendant full recovery of the patient in a relatively short time, especially in the light of her age. It also relates to the professionalism of the heroes and heroines at Johannesburg General Hospital and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre who have resisted the contemporary disease to market and popularise themselves through the media as the outstanding achievers they actually are, instead responding in a dignified and appropriate manner to the unprincipled attacks unjustly levelled against them.
All this confirmed both the excellence of our medical workers at all levels, and the unquestionable professional competence within our health system, driven by unwavering devotion to the ethics that attach to the practice of medicine. It also demonstrated the unqualified confidence of our political leader in the area of health, the Minister of Health, in the capacity of our public health system, as a consequence of which, when need arose, she entrusted her life to the members of the Johannesburg General Hospital and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre.
The values of ubuntu
I was born and grew up in a culture steeped in the ubuntu value system. Among other things, this culture valued and values the sanctity of human life. In this culture, one of the expressions used to convey thanks to an individual for doing good things says - ukhule, ukhokhobe! - may you grow old until your back bends, as befits the truly elderly!
However, the hospitalisation of our Minister of Health will have taught us that our value system is changing towards an ugly and inhumane direction. In this regard, views were expressed and a campaign waged essentially to convey the brutal message that everybody concerned, including the doctors who treated her, should have allowed Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to die.
Various propositions were advanced in this regard by and through the media. One of these was that the Donald Gordon Medical Centre carried out the liver transplant when it did because I, as President of the Republic, had obliged the medical centre to do so. Alternatively, the medical centre had treated her as a priority patient, because she is the Minister of Health.
The unadorned truth is that the allegation about our intervention with the medical centre was entirely false. Similarly, the accusation that the doctors at this centre had given preference to the Minister of Health, ahead of other and waiting patients, responding to our pressure, was also a complete fabrication. Equally, the suggestion that, unprompted, the medical centre unethically broke some rules, to enable itself to admit the Minister of Health as a priority patient, is an unadulterated concoction.
It is obvious that those who deliberately manufactured and peddled these lies did so to argue that Manto Tshabalala-Msimang should not have been treated, and should have been allowed to suffer and die. They were enraged that the Donald Gordon Medical Centre saved her life, whereas they wished and wish that her health condition should and could have been allowed to kill her.
Clearly, there is something radically wrong within our society, that anybody could have the audacity publicly to argue that nothing should have been done to attend to the health of another South African human being, allowing her to die instead, as some in our society have argued with brazen assurance.
Shining through, and mediating all this horrible, frightening and anti-human experience is both the outstanding excellence of our compatriots, the medical workers and the administration at the Johannesburg General Hospital and the Donald Gordon Medical Centre, and the dignity which Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, her husband and children have displayed in the face of a sustained and merciless propaganda assault, bereft of all sense of humane feeling and human solidarity.
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