Affected patients and hawkers decry Ndlovu’s closure
For Easter Masemola, the potential closure of Ndlovu Care Group facility in Moutse near Dennilton in Limpopo is a double blow. Masemola, who has been living with HIV for over a decade and makes a living selling take away food opposite the facility, is uncertain about her future pending the closure of the Non-Profit Organisation which renders HIV/Aids and TB services in the area on behalf of the Limpopo Department of Health.
She says that the only place that provides for her health needs while also boosting her income is about to come to a sad end.
The unemployed mother of two left her village and family near Tafelkop, years ago, to find better healthcare and a better living in Moutse.
“I am worried about my future here if this place closes because I benefit a lot from the people who come to buy my food. When I first came I was sick to a point that I couldn’t walk, and six months after coming here, I could start doing things for myself as I was better.
“I even got myself a stand to be near here so I can be closer to the health facility and started my food business which is booming because of all kinds of people that come here. I’m not happy with the decision of the court because this place takes care of us,” Masemola said.
Her ordeal started two weeks ago when The Polokwane High court ruled that the Limpopo Department of Health had the right to terminate Ndlovu’s R14 million a year contract and start a process of transferring patience to the nearby hospital and clinics in and around Dennilton.
“I don’t understand this transfer letter that I have received because I would be going back to the same clinics that I’d have to wait three months before I get ARV treatment. I was told by doctors that I can’t skip two days without the medication. What should I do now?” asked Masemola.
This is the plight of 3 800 patients that rely on medical care ranging from ARV treatment, chronic medication to diabetes and TB medication that Ndlovu provides and are disappointed with the court order. They say they will fight to the grave to make sure they are not transferred from the facility.
Speaking to African Times in Isindebele, Jeanneth Sikhosana, who is also living with HIV opened up saying that she would rather travel long distances to Ndlovu than have to go to a pubic clinic in Kwa-Mhlanga where she resides.
“I tried for years to get proper care at a clinic near my house in Mhlanga. I came to Ndlovu in someone’s arms because I could not walk and was very sick and six months later I was able to walk for myself because I get proper treatment here. I did not get proper treatment in a government clinic and nearly died. What is the government doing to us?” asked the woman in tears.
Spokesperson for the Limpopo health Department, Neil Shikwambana, says the fears of Masemola and others are without basis because Ndlovu had been distributing ARV treatment on behalf of the government. He says the department now has the capacity to render the same services. However, he admits that there could have been a better consultation process with the community of Moutse.
“We now dispense about 38 000 ARV treatment in the whole of the province simply because we have capacity to do things on our own and can’t use money that could build more clinics and improve service delivery. We learn every day and could have spoken to the community better.
“The issue of stigma is very complex because you find patients going to a faraway clinic so that those that are close to their homes are unaware of their status or sickness,” Shikwambana said.
It’s not the first time the community of Moatse is involved in a legal battle with the government. The community was also in a battle over a government decision to move Moutse to Mpumalanga as part of the demarcation issue a few years ago.
Ndlovu’s Human Resources Director, Poppy Mashamaite, said that they could not comment as they had not consulted with their lawyers.
Easter Masemola has been living with HIV for over a decade
Jeanneth Sikhosana from Kwa-Mhlanga travels long distances to Ndlovu for her treatment.
The township of Moutse near Dennilton in Limpopo where the Ndlovu Medical Center is situated.