Committee members bemoan difficulties at clinics
MORE than a decade has passed since the City of Joburg formed clinic committees in 10 regional clinics to ensure the effective running of public health care.
The committees comprise key members of the community who act as conduits between the community and clinic management, and until now they have been working well.
However, recently the members said their jobs had become challenging and the difficulties had affected health care delivery.
Chief among the problems is the lack of resources.
The members said they hadn’t received the stipend they were promised and city officials didn’t take part in their meetings.
“We would like to see an improved relationship for the effective execution of our man- date,” said Moss Maimela, the chairperson of the clinic committee at 4th Avenue Clinic in Alexandra. “Most of the time we use our own resources to conduct the affairs of the clinic. When we arrange meetings we use our own airtime and transport.”
In response, the city’s health officials said they were working with the Gauteng Health Department to assist with training the members to ensure that their concerns and input were being attended to.
They had also undertaken to attend clinic committee meetings as an obligation enshrined in the National Health Act.
“Clinic committees should work with facility managers to improve the quality of care at our clinics. In other words, to attend meetings is not just an optional responsibility,” said the city’s health spokesperson, Nkosinathi Nkabinde.
Regarding the issue of the stipend, he said committees were elected as a governance structure and their work was voluntary.
In the meantime, the Jeppe Clinic, one of the biggest government health facilities serving the high-density community of the Joburg CBD, has been temporarily closed.
The clinic was shut down last week after health officials visited the premises and found it to be in such a shocking state that they could not allow it to continue operating as a health care provider.
Staff complained that the bad smell emanating from the clinic’s mouldy walls was making them sick. Some of them had contracted chest infections.
Patients also complained that they were sometimes not being treated at the clinic because staff were refusing to work under such poor conditions.
Staff and patients unsuccessfully to protest for better conditions, but the Health Department failed to respond.
Only after their plight was published by the media did officials sit up and take notice.
Responding to a story published in The Star, health officials visited the clinic.
“The Johannesburg Health District management team has witnessed the condition of the clinic and found it’s not conducive for the community to access services.
“It’s also an unsuitable place for staff to function well,” said Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Prince Hamnca.
Patients and people who use the clinic are advised to instead go to Hillbrow Community Health Centre on the corner of Klein and Smit streets in Hillbrow.
Clinic users can contact facility manager Tholakele Mbhense at 011 336 0517 for further information. – Health-e News