Patients in the central corridor of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. Picture: DANIEL BORN/THE TIMES
Patients in the central corridor of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. Picture: DANIEL BORN/THE TIMES

Last week Wednesday I was overwhelmed by emotions and felt disgusted and annoyed after reading a media report on the horrible health services our people are subjected to from one of the public institutions in Pretoria, which is named after one of the most revered Black Consciousness Movement founding fathers — Steve Biko.

This story on the appalling health services at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital made me even angrier because I am on record as demanding that public institutions be named or renamed after other liberation struggle heroes and heroines outside the usual ANC, and its alliance partners, the SACP, Sanco and Cosatu.

The poor state of public health facilities is not exaggerated. The media reports that our people have to wait six to seven hours in long queues before they get any medical assistance and sometimes just to get their regular medication.

It is the poor and often desperate people who are subjected daily to the poor health and customer services at most of these public health facilities.

These public health institutions are supposed to provide hope, empathy and healing for our people.

It is time we end mediocrity in all our public institutions. It should be criminal for a public institution such as Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and others to be associated with bad service.

Maybe, in hindsight, we must acknowledge that we have not done enough to inform those who are in charge of these public institutions what it means for a public institution to be associated with liberation struggle heroes like Steve Biko, what he stood for and the service excellence that he represented.

We, too, have taken things for granted. We should have demanded that all public institutions named after our liberation struggle heroes and heroines be turned into centres of service excellence; and not centres of mediocrity and poor customer service.

Lesego Sechaba Mogotsi
Azapo member of the national committee on publicity and information