‘Some pa­tients be­ing favoured over oth­ers’

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS - ROLAND MPOFU

UNLICENSED and li­censed NGOs in Gaut­eng have de­cried new li­cens­ing re­quire­ments and fund­ing meth­ods which, they say, favour the Life Esidi­meni users to the detri­ment of their psy­chi­atric pa­tients.

The NGOs were re­act­ing to the Gaut­eng De­part­ment of Health an­nounce­ment that it has con­tracted and fully li­censed 64 men­tal health NGOs which house psy­chi­atric pa­tients across the prov­ince. Ac­cord­ing to MEC Siza­kele NkosiMalobane, who dis­closed this last week on be­half of MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramok­gopa, dur­ing an oral leg­is­la­ture re­sponse, 62 NGOs who still have out­stand­ing li­cens­ing re­quire­ments have been con­tracted in the in­terim un­til all the doc­u­men­ta­tion has been sub­mit­ted.

Nkosi-Malobane said the De­part­ment of Health has been work­ing closely with all the NGOs in ca­pac­ity-build­ing ini­tia­tives and ed­u­ca­tional aware­ness cam­paigns on the new na­tional guide­lines on NGO li­cens­ing re­quire­ments.

How­ever, the NGOs, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the de­part­ment was pri­ori­tis­ing the pa­tients who have been moved back to Esidi­meni.

“We are get­ting a sub­sidy of R2 278 per pa­tient per month but Esidi­meni pa­tients are paid more that R10 000 per user per month.

“This form of fund­ing means we can­not of­fer our users the best care, such as em­ploy­ing full-time nurs­ing staff and other ther­a­peu­tic treat­ments which they are sup­posed to get,” said one source.

The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent vis­ited one of the cen­tres, which caters for more than 100 pa­tients.

Some of the pa­tients were sit­ting out in the sun, try­ing to get warm, due to ad­e­quate cloth­ing be­cause of the cen­tre’s lack of fund­ing.

The cen­tre man­ager said they were not able to raise funds or get donor fund­ing be­cause they have not been li­censed.

Asked why the cen­tre has not yet been fully li­censed, the man­ager said: “We are strug­gling to raise the more than R60 000 re­quired to ob­tain a zon­ing or a re­zon­ing cer­tifi­cate and oc­cu­pancy cer­tifi­cate. The de­part­ment has been promis­ing to as­sist us but noth­ing has been forth­com­ing. We don’t know if we will still be op­er­a­tional within the next six months,” she said.

Gaut­eng health spokesper­son Prince Ham­nca con­firmed that the NGOs were paid R2 734 a month per men­tal health care user while those at Life Esidi­meni were paid R14 850 a month.

“These pa­tients (Esidi­meni) are still not 100% med­i­cally stable and need more pro­fes­sional care and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Con­tracted care costs the de­part­ment R495 per pa­tient per day,” said Ham­nca.

Ham­nca said the de­part­ment will in­crease the tar­iffs by 20% and this will be im­ple­mented in due course.

Ac­cord­ing to Nkosi-Malobane the new li­cens­ing dis­pen­sa­tion is more com­pre­hen­sive. It re­quires a copy of the con­sti­tu­tion of the NPO, zon­ing or re­zon­ing cer­tifi­cate, oc­cu­pancy cer­tifi­cate, cer­tifi­cate of ac­cept­abil­ity of food han­dling, health cer­tifi­cate, copy of the list of board mem­bers, copy of busi­ness plan with cost­ing for pro­posed ac­tiv­i­ties, proof of prop­erty own­er­ship or lease agreement, SAPS clear­ance cer­tifi­cate and tax clear­ance cer­tifi­cate, among oth­ers.

“A ca­pac­ity-build­ing work­shop was con­vened with NGOs on the new na­tional guide­lines on li­cens­ing re­quire­ments. All NGOs are legally con­tracted and sub­ject to sup­port and mon­i­tor­ing by the district team,” Nkosi-Malobane said.

Some of the NGOs com­plained about in­tim­i­da­tion by the Gaut­eng de­part­ment. “We are told that if we speak to the me­dia we won’t be is­sued with our op­er­at­ing li­cences,” said the source.

When asked about the al­le­ga­tions of in­tim­i­da­tion, Ham­nca said if any in­tim­i­da­tion oc­curs NGOs are en­cour­aged to lodge their com­plaint with the Gaut­eng De­part­ment of Health.

Mean­while DA Jack Bloom said he was con­cerned that men­tal health NGOs in Gaut­eng that look af­ter about 3 000 pa­tients are strug­gling to meet new li­cens­ing re­quire­ments that were im­posed af­ter the Esidi­meni tragedy.

“Some NGOs may be forced to close be­cause of the ex­tra ex­pense, with dire con­se­quences for pa­tients who will be un­likely to find al­ter­na­tive care.

“The Gaut­eng Health De­part­ment needs to do far more to as­sist men­tal health NGOs to meet the new li­cens­ing re­quire­ments, oth­er­wise thou­sands of pa­tients could lose vi­tally needed care.

“I hope that the Esidi­meni les­son has been learnt so that strug­gling NGOs are prop­erly as­sisted be­fore it is too late and they have to close,” said Bloom.


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