Crime cripples health services

2016-05-17 06:00

City Health is counting the cost of yet more burglaries and vandalism at its clinics – a seemingly never-ending cycle.

The City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate has submitted insurance claims valued at more than R750 000 over a nine-month period for losses incurred as a result of theft and burglary.

In two of the most recent incidents last week, criminals damaged the roof and stole pipes and taps at the Newfields Satellite Clinic in Hanover Park, leaving the facility without water and electricity.

Siyabulela Mamkeli, Mayco member for health, says on Monday 2 May in Khayelitsha, criminals made off with three computers from the Zakhele Clinic. The following night thieves stole 50 white plastic chairs from the clinic and damaged the front door and burglar gate. “These are only some of the most recent examples, but crime is an ongoing headache at many of our clinics. It severely affects service delivery. Without computers or access to electricity, staff have to revert to manual data capturing and retrieval of client files, which slows down the rate at which patients can be attended to,” Mamkeli says.

Between 1 July last year and 31 March this year, City Health submitted 104 insurance claims, Mamkeli says. Of these, 77 were for theft and or burglary and 16 were related to vandalism. The two clinics with the highest number of claims were Mzamomhle Clinic in Brown’s Farm (nine) and Nolungile Clinic in Khayelitsha (six).

In this financial year, a budget of R10m has been allocated for security at health facilities – up from R8.2m in the 2014/15 financial year – to cater for security measures such as burglar bars, fencing, alarm systems and security guards, Mamkeli says. “People need to start realising that the money we spend on safeguarding clinics and fixing damage caused by the very communities who we are trying to serve has a negative impact on the quality of the health services that they’re receiving.”

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