Water issues raise concern at Limpopo hospital

The quality of water supply at the Kgapane Hospital in Ga-Kgapane in the Bolobedu region outside Tzaneen has allegedly been affecting the level of service and care offered at the hospital.

The causes for the water shortages range from inadequate infrastructure and water restrictions to illegal connections to the hospital’s water supply made by the community.

Low dam levels

The Mopani District Municipality announced that three boreholes would be drilled at the hospital, in a bid to alleviate the water shortages due to low dam levels and water restrictions in the area.

Municipality spokesperson, Odas Ngobeni, noted that the low dam levels pose a challenge to water supply at Kgapane Hospital, as the water restrictions mean that water isn’t readily available for use. 

“However, the municipality will be drilling at least three boreholes and installing storage tanks at the hospital. This is work that must start now; hence we are sending people to do the survey today. We will also ensure that a water tanker is available to supply the hospital as we continue to work,” Ngobeni said.

In contrast to the municipality, the Limpopo Department of Health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana, said in a statement that the department is unable to immediately address infrastructure challenges at Kgapane and other facilities due to financial constraints.

Community members took to social media to express their frustration about the lack of water and poor conditions for patients at Kgapane Hospital, however, the department refutes claims made by users of the hospital.

'Rusty' infrastructure

In a Facebook post, Fanie Ngobeni highlighted the hospital’s poor service, and voiced concerns about ill-treatment of patients, poor infrastructure and hygiene standards at the hospital and more.

“When I raised these issues, I was attacked, but that didn't move me at all. A few months later, the situation is even worse. I think the governing party deployed useless cadres and incompetent individuals. They have no interest in safeguarding the lives of poor black people because their family members are taken to private hospital,” Ngobeni wrote.

The post further stated that nurses are neglectful towards patients and that the infrastructure of the hospital is “rusty” and dilapidated. Ngobeni also noted that the hospital has a record number of deaths in the region and province, which was due to nurses and hospital staff not valuing the lives of their patients. However, according to Health Systems Trust District Health Barometer 2017/2018, the Mopani District ranks higher than the Capricorn District in inpatient crude death rates.

Mmatlala Silowa from Ga-Kuranta, in Bolobedu, reports that her brother encountered horrendous service at the hospital. He sought malaria treatment after being brought to the hospital via ambulance from the local clinic, but his condition deteriorated as they queued for hours.

“My younger brother was brought into the hospital by ambulance at around 1pm. He was accompanied by our mother, who is 78-years-old, and they were told to wait for the doctor. His situation got worse before he was finally assisted at around 8pm – after my mother threatened to report them,” Silowa said.

Illegal water connections

Shikwambana addressed the popular post on social media via statement, saying it was “sensationalised”.

“The article falsely claims, among other things, that patients are requested by hospital authorities to bring their own blankets and 5-litre of water to hospital in order for them to bath and drink,” the statement reads.

“Although there has been a massive reduction on the quantity of water supply to the hospital in the recent past, it has not gotten to a point where patients have to bring water to the hospital. Nor have they ever been requested to bring blankets,” the statement continued.

Shikwambana went on to say that the department does not expect the community of Kgapane to blame the department on the shortages of water at the hospital, “because it is the very same community members who have illegally connected water on the mainline to the hospital”.

“The hospital has tried on several occasions to disconnect illegal connections, and even opened a case with the police but community members continue to connect water illegally, putting the operations of the hospital at risk. The department believes that the energy that is used to broadcast lies about the state of the hospital on social media should be correctly channelled towards partnering with the department and the local authorities to resolve the issue of illegal water connections by community members,” Shikwambana continued.

– Health-e News

Image credit: iStock

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