VOSLOORUS, WEDNESDAY 26th OCTOBER: Today 100 members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in Vosloorus are marching to Extension 28 Clinic. This is following countless complaints to the branch that the clinic is failing members of the community who rely on it.
TAC Vosloorus has engaged extensively with the local community through surveys, community dialogues and going door to door. Members of the community are complaining of late opening times, long waiting times, staff shortages, medicine stockouts, and even dirty facilities. TAC has attempted to engage with the clinic staff and the clinic committee on these issues, but nothing has changed.
“One of the functions of each TAC branch is to monitor local health services. Our members are the people using the public healthcare system, so they are the first to know when it is not working,” said Ntombi Saul, TAC Vosloorus Branch Chairperson. “Extension 28 Clinic is no exception. It is failing our people.”
Extension 28 Clinic only opens at 8am but they start working at 10am each day yet patients start arriving from around 6am and queue outside. The shortage of staff in the facility not only means extensive waiting times, but also affects the level of quality of care that patients receive. Some patients have reported to the branch that they get sent home without being seen at all. A doctor is supposed to service the clinic once a week – already too little – and sometimes fails to show up at all. There are many reports of medicines stockouts and shortages that mean people return home from the clinic empty handed. The facilities are also at a low standard of cleanliness, in particular the toilets that are dirty and without toilet paper.
In September the Minister of Health announced plans to implement a programme of test and treat in the country. This means all people living with HIV should be able to start antiretroviral treatment regardless of their CD4 count. While this is a welcome move that will benefit the health of people living with HIV, it will not be easily achieved or sustained given the many problems in our provincial healthcare systems. Without major improvements at a local facility level we can never see the Minister’s plan to treat everyone living with HIV become a reality.
Further at Extension 28 Clinic people living with HIV are often chastised for missing appointment dates or times. Instead of encouraging people to adhere to HIV treatment, this rather creates additional reasons to default, this does not only end with HIV access to treatment but also other chronic medicine, like hypertension treatment. The medical consequences of people living with HIV and other chronic conditions, defaulting or interrupting treatment can be grave, including drug resistance, decreasing immunity, increased risk of opportunistic infections and transmission of HIV and TB, ultimately leading to more illness and death.
TAC members will be handing a memorandum to the Clinic Manager and members of the Clinic Committee. They demand response on the issues address within 7 days.
For more information contact:
Dimakatso Patience Motsopi (Vosloorus TAC Branch Secretary) at 071-402-8816
Tshweu Mosedi (Community Advocate and Educator) at 076-097-0413
Norah Mathe (Vosloorus Branch Executive) at 078-150-0481