Embattled Bara defends TV channel
Johannesburg - The largest hospital in the southern hemisphere, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, has been mired in a series of controversies ranging from lack of infrastructure to poor healthcare. Now questions have arisen about the logic behind the hospital’s plan to establish its own television channel.
The hospital was recently criticised after medical staff had to use their cellphone torches to complete a caesarean and manually give oxygen to a patient on life support following a power failure because three new generators failed to start.
In February, it was reported that a number of newborns had died while others had been left brain damaged at the hospital’s labour ward because of a staffing crisis.
But those involved insist the TV channel aims to address problems at the hospital.
Dr Mveleli Gqwede, popularly known as Dr Love, this week said the channel would educate residents in Soweto, teaching them how to use the hospital constructively. Gqwede said he would be heading up the TV channel.
“Communication is basic necessity for any hospital. Bara is an academic institution that provides tertiary healthcare. Long gone are the days where we have someone with a fever as a walk-in patient. The public needs to understand that there are other places such as clinics when they suffer from minor illnesses. One way of ensuring they understand is by communicating with them through a TV channel,” he said.
Gqwede said he had approached the hospital’s management and its board upon seeing misconceptions about Bara portrayed in the media.
He said content on the free-to-air channel would consist of lifestyle, health, educational and spiritual programmes.
“We hope to within a 25km radius of areas in and around Soweto. In time we might air on DSTV with the hope of linking to other hospitals,” he said.
The channel, Gqwede said, would be funded by private organisations and would run from the Glin Thomas building inside the hospital.
He however, declined to reveal how much it would cost to run and maintain TV programmes, saying main- tenance depended on funds raised.
Asked why the channel was being launched at a time when the hospital and its medical personnel faced various challenges, Gwede replied: “Bara should not be immune to these problems. The sensation of somebody claiming that doctors operated using their cell- phone lights is uncalled for. It is precisely these sensational aspects we hope to dispel.”
Monde Ntebe, head of public relations and strategic stakeholder manager at Bara, said the hospital was not in the business of entertaining death but instead was a healing hub.
He said while the hospital struggled from time to time, it equally had success stories such as its prevention of mother to child HIV/Aids programme.
Gauteng department of health spokesman Simon Zwane said about the channel: “We think it will be useful in as far as it will educate people in Soweto and offer them a platform to interact with doctors and medical personnel.”
A launch date for the channel has yet to be announced.