Family blames EC Health Department for death of 18-year-old who died from lung disease

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The family of the late Unako Kewana is blaming the Eastern Cape Health Department for the death of their child. 18-year-old Kewana had been living with an oxygen concentrator after she developed a lung disease in 2018. She also suffered from depression.

Due to her lung disease, Kewana had to quit school in grade 8, and although mobile oxygen tank donations helped, her condition didn’t show any improvement.

Family spokesperson Ntombizanele Kewana claims that recent power cuts further exacerbated her niece’s sickness.

“The doctors did the best that they could have done, but our problem was the nurses. Nurses at Cecelia Makhiwane never cared for Unako’s condition. At one stage, they chased Unako and her mother away when they were merely looking for oxygen,” says Kewana.

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Both the family and the director of the Khula Development Group, Petros Majola, are calling for those responsible to be held accountable.

“The health department has failed that child because she’d moved from pillar to post from Makhiwane to Nontyatyambo getting there and being sent back until a level where she developed depression,” says Majola.

The provincial Health Department spokesperson, Yonela Dekeda, is refuting the claims that the department was negligent in handling Unako’s condition. She says Kewana received proper medical care.

“An ambulance was always made available whenever needed to fetch the patient from to Cecelia Makhiwane Hospital to ensure she does not run out of oxygen during the rolling blackouts period all the patients that survived from mobile oxygen tanks had to be admitted in hospital to ensure uninterrupted access to power but this patient refused Hospital admission,” explains Dekeda.

Kewana will be laid to rest next Saturday, and her family has indicated that they are struggling financially with preparations for her funeral.

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