Health system under pressure

Cape Town 150331 The new Valentia operating system in use on the EMS vehicles on callouts in the Western Cape, South Africa. Photographer: Armand Hough
Injuries sustained through violence, referring in particular to gun violence and interpersonal violence, is one of the biggest contributors to the province’s quadruple burden of disease, which places the health system under enormous pressure.

Since the beginning of the year, Tygerberg Hospital has treated on average a staggering 107 gunshot victims a month. 

During 2019, the health system has seen a significant increase in the number of patients being admitted to hospitals and morgues due to gunshot injuries.

At Groote Schuur Hospital, the number of patients presenting with gunshot wounds has increased by 100% over the past eight years. In a trauma surveillance study, the Trauma Centre previously attended on average to 37 gunshot victims per month. This number has now significantly increased to a monthly average of 73 cases. 

In the 2018/19 financial year, 80.76% of violence-related deaths occurred in the Metro Health District, with Khayelitsha (318), Parow (242) and Delft (239) as the top three suburbs – hence the enormous pressure Tygerberg Hospital is experiencing because it is the specialised hospital for these areas.

The provincial Department of Health said emergency centres are operating at more than 100% capacity most of the time. 

In 2008, Emergency Centres at district and regional hospitals in the metro collectively received 186 425 emergency visits, compared to 382 132 visits in 2018.