Hospital under fire

TAC members were in high spirits during their protest march.

Advocacy group, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), is demanding an immediate end to what it calls the “carelessness” of health officials at the Michael Maphongwana Community Health Centre, in Harare, Khayelitsha.

On Thursday November 17, hundreds of angry TAC members staged a picket, accusing the hospital of poor service.

Singing and carrying placards, they vowed to continue protesting until staff changed their attitudes and the facility adhered to the Batho Pelo principles (putting people first). They accused the hospital of turning patients away and ill-treating pregnant women.

They said the facility was also small, and at times people were treated outdoors with no privacy.

TAC spokesman Andile Madondile said that until all their concerns were addressed they would continue to protest.

“We are here to voice our anger, frustration and unhappiness on how the facility operates. We are here to call on Michael Maphongwana to comply with the Batho Pele principles, which requires public servants to be polite, open and transparent and to deliver good service to the public. Some of our demands are from the last picket which was in November 2014,” he said.

Mr Madondile said that in the last couple of months his organisation had seen a number of new mothers visiting its offices to complain. Some had decided to move to other facilities because they had lost hope in the facility.

“Another issue is the closing of the pharmacy while patients are still at the clinic without valid reasons. That also contributes to the lack of faith in the provision of services at the facility.

“We also call for more doctors at this facility,” he said.

He added that there were also problems at Nolungile Clinic and Khayelitsha Day Hospital. “We are monitoring those too. We also suspect that some of the problems are created by the health budget cut. We feel that cut is unfair,” he said.

Priscilla Meyisi, who claimed to have been ill-treated at the facility, said she had had to clean and bandage her wound on the pavement after an appendix operation.

She said the nurses had been nasty to her and told her to clean herself. “I long for a change here. There is a lot of bad things here,” she said.

Harare resident Mthuthuzeli Dutyulwa said the centre should serve anyone no matter where they came from. He claimed to have seen people turned away because they were not from Harare. He also criticised the staff’s attitude towards patients.

“Their attitude is far from what we expect as people. We have a right to be treated as human beings,” he said.

The protesters handed a memorandum to the sister in charge and operational manager, Nosipho Jonas.

Department of Health spokesman Sithembiso Magubane said they were studying the issues raised by the protesters and would discuss them with the TAC. He said that since the issues were raised in 2014, a new child health unit had been built at the facility and would open soon.

He said the hospital had “implemented a patient centred maternity care code which has impacted positively on attitudes and management of women in labour. The code is extended to the primary health care area so to ensure that all clients are well cared for”.