Woman miscarries while waiting at clinic

2013-09-11 19:37

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Johannesburg - A coalition of partners is calling for drastic action to rebuild the collapsing Eastern Cape health care system,  after a report revealed a woman miscarried while waiting to be seen to at a local clinic.

"Researchers have found infrastructure problems that need serious improvement to help service delivery," Rural Health Advocacy Project spokesperson Kwazi Mbatha said on Wednesday.

A report compiled by, among others, Section 27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), detailed stories of patients not getting help at hospitals and clinics because of a lack of medications.

It also described hampered service delivery as a result of the poor state of health care facilities.

"The combination of a high vacancy rate and an out of date personnel salary system has catastrophic consequences for the delivery of health care services," the organisations said in the report.

According to the report, a pregnant woman had to walk 10km to the Pilani clinic, and had to wait an entire day to be seen by the nurse running the clinic with an assistant.

Lindeka Gxala visited the clinic six times.

When the nurse could not see her on the seventh occasion, she decided to go to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, in Mthatha, instead.

There she was told that her child was dead.

"The doctor assured me that there would be no pain when they removed her from me, and I was admitted and placed in a ward the following day," she was quoted as saying.

However, she was forced to share a bed with a woman who was already in labour because of a shortage of beds.

She claimed that when there were complications with the removal of the foetus, she was told to walk around until she collapsed, rather than being given help.


In the report, the organisations identified mismanagement of funds as an underlying problem.

In 2011/2012, the department overspent on its staffing budget by more than R1bn because of higher than inflation increase to salaries and poorly-managed employees benefits.

Mbatha said an explanation was needed of how the system would be turned around.

"We need to be given a plan of how and when they are going to address the problems. We are also asking what kind of help they require to turn things around," he said.

He said the organisations had tried to meet the Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana, to no avail.

As a result, they would take to the streets on Friday to voice their anger and force action to be taken.

"He [the MEC] has not yet even agreed that he will be accepting our memorandum," said Mbatha.

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo denied that the MEC was avoiding the issue and said someone would receive the organisations' memorandum on Friday, but it might not be the MEC.

He said the concerns had been noted and the national health minister would respond in due course.

Read more on:    sicelo gqobana  |  east london  |  health

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