Monday, August 20, 2007

Medical professionalism African style - more on Manto Tshabalala-Msimang

Hey, what a tendentious headline this is... I don't mean to write about medical professionalism African style, but about the disgraceful conduct of the (current, and would you believe it, still in office) South African Minister for Health Prevention, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Manto has succeeded for several years to aid and abet the line of her boss, Thabo Mbeki, on HIV/AIDS. Hundreds of thousands of South African people with HIV/AIDS died preventable deaths because those two shady characters colluded in slowing down the roll-out of effective life-preserving AIDS treatments for as long as was/is feasible. She instead continued to promote various vegetables as a serious alternative to proper AIDS treatments.

Of course, as is usually the case when it comes to such people, there's one rule for the people and another for the rulers. All the politically correct rhetoric of the ANC is not going to change that. It has since transpired that Manto,a card carrying member of the League of Continuing Alcoholics (LCA), jumped the queue in order to access a fresh liver. It would have been very difficult for her to continue drinking otherwise. Other people of her age who happen to continue to enjoy large quantities of alcohol (as she does) tend not to get access to life-preserving new organs. These scarce resources are usually preserved for people younger than Manto, and people who, unlike Manto, stopped drinking. Well, despite much by way of denials (attending doctors were seemingly pressured into claiming that her alcohol induced liver disease wasn't alcohol induced...), it's clear now that the country's health prevention minister is not only incompetent but also otherwise unfit to run the Department of Health. She doesn't seem to mind bending the rules that have been put in place to allocate scarce transplant organs justly in the country.

Since these facts came to light it was also discovered by an investigation published last weekend by the country's SUNDAY TIMES that Manto was fired a couple of years ago from her day job as a superintendent at a hospital in Botswana because she stole plenty of hospital property and even a watch from a patient who was undergoing surgery under full anaesthesia.

Here's a revealing excerpt from yesterday's SUNDAY TIMES:

This week some of the key witnesses who testified during her trial and who had worked with Tshabalala-Msimang at the time, told the Sunday Times that jewellery, hats, handbags and even shoes had disappeared from the hospital over several months.

They had not suspected Tshabalala-Msimang and had were shocked when she was arrested for the thefts.

“It was unbelievable that a superintendent of the hospital would do something like that,” said a retired nurse who worked at the hospital at the time. Tshabalala-Msimang was arrested after an oval-shaped watch belonging to a female patient disappeared while she was under anaesthetic. The theft was reported to the police. Tshabalala-Msimang was arrested when she arrived at work three weeks later, wearing the watch. Staff contacted the investigating officer and Tshabalala-Msimang was arrested in front of her employees. A warrant was obtained to search Tshabalala-Msimang’s home and police found, among other things, linen, blankets and heaters that belonged to the hospital.'

So, an incompetent, drinking crook that is how one could best describe South Africa's Minister for Health Prevention, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. No wonder the ANC leadership has promoted her straight into the health department. There are only few senior people in the ANC that haven't managed to get their hands in one till or another, so Manto probably had the perfect character profile for the job.

Mind you, there's still people left in South African medical schools seriously trying to teach ethics.

... to be continued

1 comment:

  1. Aw, c'mon now, Prof: as a part-time Australian, you should be a bit more broadminded when it comes to politicians hitting the bottle. There, nearly everyone is tolerant of Labour Party leader Kevin Rudd getting so drunk in a New York strip club that he couldn't remember anything about its semi-naked women or what they were doing. Even feminist Eva Cox of the Women's Electoral Lobby said: "Doing something dumb is not a cardinal sin ... you can't condemn somebody for getting on the p*ss - we would never have elected Bob Hawke in that case."
    Yet here in South Africa we are making a huge fuss over the tippling habits of our health minister who, even when she is unwell, indulges sensibly in wine and whisky, and not strange vegetable concoctions such as beetroot and African potato juice, from the effects of which not even a liver transplant could save you.
    "Ah, but a minister of health should be healthy!" I hear you cry. Rubbish! That's like saying that the minister of correctional services should have done jail time, or that the minister of labour should work a 45-hour week. And as for the theft business in Botswana, that was a miscarriage of justice: anyone who voluntarily agrees to be anaesthetised should be considered functionally dead and have their possessions distributed equally among the staff. How was she to know the patient would survive?

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