Clinics show country’s failing health system

2016-04-28 06:00

On a recent oversight visit by delegates to three Primary Health Care (PHC) clinics in the region, it was witnessed first-hand how the country falls desperately short of having an efficient, functioning, service-oriented and patient-centered preventive health care system.

“South Africa’s disease profile shows that we become ill from, and die of, preventable diseases that are manageable in the PHC-tier,” said Dr. Wilmot James, DA Shadow Minister of Health.

“These diseases can be treated at a significantly lower cost than at second-tier hospitals. It is therefore at the PHC tier that the bulk of health services should be rendered.

“I will accordingly be requesting a meeting with the Eastern Cape Health MEC, Ms Pumza Dyantyi, to discuss what interventions are being planned to mitigate these needless illnesses.”

His visit with DA Eastern Cape MPL, Celeste Barker, to Korsten and Rose Street clinics in Port Elizabeth and Kabah clinic in Uitenhage painted a very different picture.

“At all three clinics the staffing levels are half of what they ought to be. A serious consequence of this includes long queues and overworked nursing staff, most visible at Kabah clinic.

“Waiting times exceed what should be the norm – often four hours or more.

“Indeed, at Kabah, the nursing staff faced crushing pressure from about 80 patients, some with babies and children in their arms, crammed into a small and densely packed hall that ran the risk of promoting clinic-acquired infections in an area that has a high incidence of multi-drug and extensively resistant TB.”

Dr James argues that the Kabah infrastructure needs more consulting rooms, a proper driveway for ambulances and wheelchair friendly facilities and maintenance needs are considerable.

Staff also require a safe exit when there are riots, the last one of 18 May 2015 having left them trapped and vulnerable.

The Department of Health conducted a national audit of clinics and released the results in 2012 and found a majority to be seriously wanting. In response an Ideal Clinic programme was introduced to set things right. All clinics are in the process of being audited to see whether they meet the standards.

(-Heilie Combrinck)

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