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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Hospital shock for SA's minister
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
Health Minister Tshabalala-Msimang said she would find it difficult to recommend the hospital
South Africa's heath minister has visited the country's largest hospital - and is troubled by what she saw.

Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said she would hesitate to be treated at Soweto's Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, after a visit on Thursday.

The visit by the minister and other officials was part of a plan to improve service by promoting dialogue between patients and government officials.

The minister said she was shocked to see sick people waiting in long queues.

Many of the sick were sleeping on stretchers with no bed linen, the Star newspaper reports.

Under-investment

"It cannot be right that the provincial [health] department buys bedding and somebody stores it away," Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said.

"I always tell people to use public hospitals, but from what I saw today I would also hesitate to come here," she added.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is the main hospital serving the 900,000 people of Soweto, a city built in the apartheid era as a black residential area near Johannesburg.

Correspondents say South Africa's health system is struggling to deal with the Aids epidemic, and with years of under-investment in basic services during apartheid.


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