About six tuberculosis patients are on the run after they overpowered security guards and escaped from the Jose Pearson hospital in Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape health department said on Thursday.
Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said several patients escaped on Wednesday after overpowering 10 guards but many had returned to the hospital. "So far six patients are still on the run. We are trying to contact their relatives to find out their whereabouts to track them down. On Thursday several other patients at the hospital went on a hunger strike."
The patients' demands were unreasonable as they wanted to be allowed to go out and do shopping. Kupelo said the health department was not running a prison facility but a health facility.
"What is happening is beyond the control of the doctors and nurses as there is a criminal element involved." The Jose Pearson hospital has about 300 TB patients.
Entertainment in hospitals to keep patients there
"These people are being kept at the facility as patients and not as prisoners." Similar protests by TB patients took place at the Fort Grey hospital in East London on Wednesday.
In July this year 19 TB patients escaped from Jose Pearson TB
hospital for the first time. Kupelo said the 19 demanded that they be let out of the hospital, then managed to overpower security guards and fled.
They escaped after a security guard, who has since been suspended, allegedly allowed one patient to go shopping. Others then demanded that they also be let out of the hospital, and overpowered security guards. A special team was sent out to look for them.
Sixteen of the patients returned to the hospital and security was
beefed up. Entertainment features were also added to the hospital to prevent further incidents.
Health dept appeals to patients to return
Kupelo said the health department installed televisions screen with creative channels, provided pool tables and other entertainment facilities.
The health department is appealing to the patients to return to the hospital as they were too sick to be out in public. "They have to understand that they are been kept at the hospital because their condition dictates that. They have to take their medication. – (Sapa, September 2008)
16 escaped TB patients return
21 escaped TB patients return