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

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