Coalition fights for equality in frail care centre subsidies

2017-02-15 06:01

A COALITION of NGO’s has voiced their concern over what they say is inequality in the local frail care system alleging that frail care centres in the more privileged suburbs receive a higher subsidy from the state than the NPO’s in the township and poorer areas.

South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) Acting District Chairperson Wandile Junundu said they have written a letter to the Social Development Department MEC Nancy Sihlwayi to demand answers on this.

SANGOCO in the province will march to the offices of the Social Development Department in Bhisho next week to hand a memorandum to the MEC calling for parity in frail care and old-age centres, said Junundu.

Frail care centres in South Africa has been put under the spotlight since the recent revelation that at least 94 psychiatric patients had died in the care of ill-equipped and unregistered Non Government Organisations (NGOs) after the Gauteng Provincial Health Department released them to their care.

While the Gauteng case involves the Health Department and had subsequent to the revelations and the public outcry, seen Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigning, the Eastern Cape matter was somewhat different.

According to Junundu, the issues in the Eastern Cape involves what they say is the Social Development Department’s “failure to comply with the country’s transformation agenda”.

“In the Eastern Cape, and more especially in Nelson Mandela Bay, we have been exposed to the sad reality of unequality that prevails in these frail care centres, something that calls for an immediate need for transformation,” said Junundu.

Junundu said there is no fairness and equality in the way the Social Development Department and Eastern Cape Frail Care (Pty) LTD were rendering frail care services to, for example, the Lorraine and Algoa Frail Centres in the suburbs, as opposed to the Ekuphumleni Old-age Home in Zwide Township, Gelvandale Frail Care Centre and Age In Action in Malabar.

“The budget allocated to the centres in the suburbs were not he same. Lorraine and Algoa Frail Care Centres were given preferential treatment by the Department of Social Department,” said Junundu, adding that there was a bigger subsidy for these centres compared to those in the townships.

SANGOCO Secretary Monga Peter said in a letter to the Social Development Department “We note with concern the revelation that these facilities are subsidised at a rate of about R18 000 per client a month, which is substantially more than what the socially deserving NPO operated facilities are subsidised which has been for many years still R1 700 per older person per month”.

He added that they were mostly concerned that the privileged centres received subsidies that cover the cost of items that socially deserving NPOs and their clients were not subsidised for. SANGOCO called on the MEC to respond, adding that these inequalities could not be left unchallenged, especially 23 years after democracy.

Social Development Department spokesperson Mzukisi Solani confirmed receiving a communiqué from SANGOCO “seeking an audience with the MEC.”

Solani confirmed the difference in the frail care subsidies. “There are only two privately owned frail care centres in the province, and they are Algoa Frail Care and Lorraine Frail Care. The private centres charged R18 000 per person per month while those we refer to as NPOs charged R1 700 per month.”

Solani said this was seen as ‘irregular’ by the AG and the MEC was aware of it and in the process of correcting it. Solani said SANGOCO’s complaint would assist his Department.

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