Cokonyane Clinic under-resourced, under-staffed and providing undignified health services to patients

Issued by Sello Seitlholo, MP – DA Constituency Head: Greater Taung Local Municipality
18 Aug 2020 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: Please find the attached soundbite in English and Setswana by Sello Seitlholo MP, the DA Constituency Head in Greater Taung Local Municipality

Last week, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Taung conducted an oversight inspection to Cokonyane Clinic to find the clinic severely under-resourced and under-staffed.

In 2017, Cokonyane clinic used to operate from an old and dilapidated asbestos building which was shut-down by the department of health citing the negative side effects this may have on patients and staff. Please see photo here.

The North West Department of Health installed temporary container which allegedly cost R1.2 million until such time that they could build a new clinic building to replace the asbestos one. Three years later, no building has been built and patients are offered health services in a crammed container.  Please see photos here, here and here

The space is so small that patients have no privacy when they are in consultation. Of concern is also the fact that pregnant women get labour assistance in close proximity to other patients without any privacy.

The container can only take a certain number of people at a time meaning that some patients have to queue outside in the open where there is no shade or form of protection against bad weather conditions such as heat and the cold.

The clinic usually services about 70 patients a day, and on a busy day, it can assist at least 170 patients. There is only one general worker who cleans the facility, does the laundry of all the sheets after nurses assist a maternity patient and also cooks for patients at the clinic. The same general worker is often on stand-by while on leave and thus is unable to enjoy the benefits of her labour rights.

The clinic is in complete darkness at night as there is no light that works, whilst there is a high mast light that has not been working for over a year which could assist in this regard. The DA will write to the Mayor and Municipal Manager of Greater Taung Municipality to get clarity on why the high mast light which is no more than 100m from the clinic does not work.

The clinic has no proper rooms to store patient and clinic files as well as medicine.

There is only one toilet for staff members whilst patients, both males and females are made to use pit toilets just behind the clinic container. Patients and staff bemoaned the smell coming from the pit toilets, more specifically during hot summer days that causes an unbearable stench, the toilet is unhygienic and can cause harm to patients’ health. Please see photos here and here.

The facility does not have a proper supply of water, it takes hours to fill just one toilet cistern. The clinic management has approached Sedibeng Waters which supplies them with water but the company says the issue is not the water but the piping infrastructure which is the responsibility of the District Health Department to fix.

It is clear that Cokonyane Clinic barely has resources and staff to offer patients quality health services. The clinic management has waited for years now for a proper clinic to be built but their pleas are never attended to.

The DA will ask its North West Spokesperson on Health, Gavin Edwards to write to the MEC for Health, Madoda Sambatha, asking him to make provision for a proper clinic to be built. The MEC must also conduct an oversight visit to the clinic to see the unconducive working conditions that staff work in and the undignified manner in which the community of Cokonyane, Modimong and other nearby communities receive health services.

Section 27 of the Constitution stipulates that everyone has a right to basic health care, this should be provided in a dignified way. The people of Cokonyane, Modimong and other nearby communities cannot be offered secondary health services.