Health Services: 'Cry the beloved Patients'

2013-01-29 18:39

Together with Mr Dan Shoba, the principal of Carisbrooke Primary School, I co-ordinated CANSA’s mobile clinic to visit the Carisbrooke rural community, outside Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal.

We drove on the R56 road to Umzimkhulu and on the way we passed Thornville, Richmond and Ixopo. A few kilometres after Ixopo at a sign D 414 we took a left turn into Carisbrooke.

We drove slowly along the mud and gravel roads, avoiding farm animals, potholes and stones until we reached the Carisbrooke Community Hall. Carisbrooke, made famous by Alan Paton’s book Cry the beloved Country, is surrounded by verdant valleys, trees and mud huts.

We immediately set up the mobile clinic and then we explained to the local community the purpose of our visit. The mobile clinic’s programme staff educated the community about the different types of cancers and carried out pap smears, breast examination, and finger- prick prostate tests for free. The immense joy, gratitude and deep satisfaction the community displayed towards the CANSA staff for rendering their valuable time and services was clearly evident to all present.

This invaluable service, especially in rural areas, is essential in order to dispel myths and superstitious surrounding cancer, allowing for early detection of this and other diseases.

Standing there looking at the long line of people snaking its way to the clinic in the scorching heat made me very emotional. The thought that went through my mind was: “Surely these human beings are worthy of better lives and health care!”  “Our constitution guarantees adequate health care and a life of dignity for all.”

Mr Shoba who also travelled with the convoy said that it was the first time such an essential service was provided to this poverty stricken community.

In light of such a huge demand for health services and a shortage of hospital beds in our country, the imminent closure of the McCord Hospital in Durban is a crying shame. In a country that suffers with a serious shortage of medical personnel and facilities, the possible closing down of a 103 year old essential facility should alarm and sadden all of us. Collectively, as South Africans we should effectively engage with the Department of Health and demand that every avenue be explored to keep the hospital running.

The hospital’s historic track record of no malpractice and maladministration speaks for itself. Many academics, doctors and people have praised its decades of health care to the poor of KwaZulu Natal and especially for its HIV/Aids initiatives.

While waiting for the politicians, political parties and health authorities to sort out the malaise in the health sector, inter alia, we as ordinary human beings should take up the cudgel and wherever possible put in place structures, through our voluntary services, that will ease the burden of the less fortunate especially those faced with debilitating diseases.

In this regard I would like to encourage every conscience driven individual to volunteer some of their spare time with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) or any other bona fide organisation in doing voluntary work, especially in rural areas.

CANSA and other Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) cannot function without volunteers!

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