Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says he won’t apologise to anyone for his fight against alcohol abuse.
Responding to reports that billions of rand and thousands of jobs would be lost if his department went ahead with a plan to ban liquor companies from advertising and sponsoring teams, he said: “They want to talk about businesses collapsing and unemployment, but what about human rights?
“I won’t apologise to anyone for fighting alcohol abuse.”
Opening the R700 million Khayelitsha District Hospital with Premier Helen Zille on Tuesday, Motsoaledi said SA was ranked 10th on the world list of countries where drunkeness was most prevalent.
“Alcohol abuse is one of the main causes of trauma and violent crimes in this country. This is a big emergency and we have to do something about it. We are going to work together to fight alcohol abuse in the Western Cape and in this country.”
Motsoaledi called on communities to fight alcohol abuse the same way activists fought apartheid.
The liquor industry has described the Health Department’s draft bill on alcohol advertising as draconian, short-sighted, misguided and devastating to jobs.
The department reportedly wants an outright ban on the liquor industry advertising and event sponsoring.
Zille said alcohol abuse was the source of most trauma in the province.
“Most traumas are related to alcohol abuse. And we have to deal with this trauma at the source.
‘‘That’s why we have enacted the Liquor Act in the Western Cape,” Zille said.
The 240-bed Khayelitsha Hospital would serve about 1.5 million Khayelitsha residents and was expected to lighten the load of the overburdened GF Jooste and Tygerberg hospitals, said Health MEC Theuns Botha.
The hospital’s paediatric and obstetric wards were opened in February. Botha said the hospital was the most modern and most sophisticated in the country.
“Finally, after a lifetime of travelling far to get to a hospital, the people of Khayelitsha have access to a hospital in their immediate vicinity that compares with some of the best in the world.”
Services at the hospital include:
* In-patient services such as surgical, medical, paediatric and overnight beds.
* A medical day ward.
* A large accident and emergency unit, 30 percent bigger than that of a standard district hospital.
* A larger-than-normal maternity ward.
* An EMS ambulance station and heliport.
* An obstetrics unit with a nursery.