Minister’s visit uncovers clinic inadequacies
Nomathamsanqa Delihlazo (73) lost three daughters in one year after what she alleges was a misdiagnoses at the under-staffed Gompo clinic in Jabavu Street, Duncan Village. Her daughters left behind five grandchildren aged five, seven, nine, 12 and 13.
Delihlazo narrated the heartbreaking tale of burying three children in a short period of time during a Democratic Alliance inspection visit in Block D by Shadow Minister for Health, Siviwe Gwarube and local DA councillors on Saturday morning.
The clinic, situated just 100 metres away from her home allegedly has two on-duty nurses daily servicing an impoverished ever-growing informal settlement community with thousands of citizens. On this Saturday morning, the 24-hour clinic was closed. Delihlazo’s daughters, born between 1975 and 1988, were regulars at the clinic, but their conditions got so severe that they had to be carried by neighbours when they needed urgent medical assistance. Two of them were diagnosed with HIV and one complained about a headache.
“Thenjiswa had a constant headache and she would put a block of ice on her head whenever it hurt. Much later the clinic referred her to Frere hospital where she had to be operated immediately because she had blood clots in her brain. She died on the operating table,” recalls Delihlazo. Her other two daughters died of HIV related illnesses after they were referred to the hospital. Spokesperson for the department of Health, Sizwe Kupelo, vehemently denied that there is a clinic, anywhere in the province, that had two nurses. “There are supposed to be 40 workers at that clinic, including doctors and nurses. Often when people lose loved ones they find it hard to accept, so they blame the government. We will look into the medical records of the deceased and we will trace whether there were any irregularities,” he promised.
However, DA Shadow Minister Gwarube argues that it not surprising to hear that the clinic is under-staffed seeing that it is closed when it is meant to be a 24-hour health service centre.
“The living conditions of the people of Duncan Village will inevitably lead to a plethora of sanitation and hygiene related illnesses. An under-staffed clinic is a danger to this community. Already there are talks in parliament that the primary healthcare budget has been decreased for the coming financial year. We will challenge that because there are places like this that need more infrastructure,” she said.
Kupelo argues that the Gompo clinic is a primary health care facility that refers all serious cases to either eMpilweni or the nearest hospital. Gwarube insists that it still needs adequate infrastructure and enough human resource as it services at least 80% of first time cases. “Whenever a government is failing, the health of the poorest communities is at the receiving end. I will come back and inspect the situation further before we move towards a solution,” said Gwarube.
The DA delegation was met with aggression by some community members who are ANC affiliates, with some women swearing at them for asking questions about a clinic that was not built by their political party.
The delegation interacted with residents through a door-to-door campaign in the immediate area of the Gompo C-clinic in Jabavu Street, D Hostel, Duncan Village, East London.