Residents lambast public health care system

Members of the Treatment Action Campaign at the imbizo in Mfuleni.

Unfulfilled promises by the government to address shortfalls at public hospitals are crippling the health system, and are failing communities. This emerged during an imbizo organised by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), at Chris Hani Hall, Mfuleni, on Wednesday May 29.

Various organisations such as Masimathande, AfrikaTikun, TB/HIV Care, Power Child and Yabonga attended the imbizo, where irate residents raised concerns over the state of healthcare in some districts in the province.

The TAC said it recently conducted a nationwide facility monitoring survey through their members. These TAC members, who make use of public health care facilities, were asked to fill in a standardised monitoring template.

The TAC said it organised the imbizo after numerous complaints including ones about long queues and long distances patients have to travel to access healthcare services.

TAC chairperson, Vuyani Macotsha, said there was a growing need for access to healthcare and pointed out that there had been an increase in the number of patients on chronic medication.

Mr Macotsha said poor service delivery across the country was a problem.

“TAC is supposed to be celebrating 20 years of existence, but we can’t while we have a broken health system,” she said.

“It cannot be business as usual when children cannot get BCG (BCG is a vaccine given to children who are at high risk of catching TB), when people are not treated equally. There is no privacy at the clinics. People are turned away or wait long hours,” he said

Mihle Dyantyi painted a bad picture of public healthcare in Mfuleni, claiming that patients are only attended to if the staff know them. “Even if it is something gravely serious, I just do not go to the clinic because of the bad behaviour of the nurses. I am prepared to spend money on doctors and hospitals,” he said.

The TAC said staff shortages were the main reason for the long queues.

Ms Dyantyi said the clinics could not accommodate both Mfuleni and Driftsands residents. “Mfuleni alone has grown tremendously. We were promised a better clinic but until today, there is nothing. Mfuleni deserves a day hospital like Khayelitsha,” she said.

She said there were many people like her who have ran away from the clinics.

However, the health department representative who attended the imbizo, Gilboni Matiso, said the department had improved many of the issues which had been raised.

He added that many of the complaints had been registered with the government and solutions were in the process of being implemented.