Khayelitsha health matters in spotlight

Right: Khayelitsha residents at Health Imbizo in Site B community Hall on Friday October 19 were also treated to healthy eating.

As Khayelitsha’s fast population grows, the health issues facing health facilities have come to the forefront at an imbizo held on Friday October 19 with residents highlighting the need for the sector to actively address them.

At the imbizo, everyone seemed to agree that health facilities in the district were under pressure.

The imbizo, hosted by the provincial Department of Health and Khayelitsha Site B Community Health Centre at Siie B community hall, saw partnerships formed with the health committee, the South African Police Services, the University of Cape Town, the South Africa Social Security Agency, other government departments and NGOs to focus on issues affecting the public.

The focus of the day was to create a platform for community engagement with various stakeholders working in and around Khayelitsha. Residents had an opportunity to engage with the facility staff members regarding the health services. The discussions included how to access services, current health system challenges, waiting times, overcrowding at health facilities, and emergency services.

Sithembiso Magubane, principal communications officer for Khayelitsha and Eastern Substructure, said there were many contributing factors that led to the challenges at the facilities. He said contributing to the high demand for beds and overcrowded emergency centres, were interpersonal violence, often fuelled by substance and alcohol abuse.

“This impacts the overall health of and the service delivery to the Khayelitsha community. For this reason, Khayelitsha Site B CHC has organised this health imbizo to create a platform for open discussion regarding the health issues that are faced by the community and the public health system,” he said.

Mr Magubane admitted that included the burden of diseases, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, the crime rate, lack of access to water and sanitation, water wastage, and many others.

He added that the provincial Department of Health aimed to bring the best health service to the people of the Western Cape through providing a full package of care to patients.

Addressing those who attended the imbizo, Professor Graeme Meintjes, of the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa), said he was happy that the health stakeholders want better healthcare.

He said they were busy with research and were making inroads in search for a cure for HIV.

But he warned residents not to stop using condoms.

“The reason we do all these things is to to try to improve the health of Khayelitsha people. We want to better healthcare here,” he said.

Resident Noluvuyo Siko applauded all those who gathered at the hall, saying it was good to have different departments available to answer questions from the residents.

“My hope is that this is not just cheap talk.

“We had lip service before but this promises to be good and real. This is has to be commended.

“We asked questions and got responses.

“I am happy to have been part of this gathering,” she said.

The imbizo started early in the morning with a public participation session at attendees raised their concerns and shared opinions and suggestions.

The Site B CHC staff members also raised awareness about on how to access health care, what services are available, promoted HIV and tuberculosis screening and prevention interventions and encouraged regular screening for non-communicable diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes, and HIV testing.