South Africa. A top Eastern Cape municipal official has blamed Bhisho for the desperate state of primary healthcare in his district, which serves up to 1.7m people.
Vuyo Mlokoti, municipal manager of the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) said the problems were the result of the municipality being grossly under-funded by the provincial Health Department.
He told a special local Labour Forum meeting called to discuss the situation of primary health in the ADM region that all mobile clinics had far exceeded their life span.
This posed a great risk to patients and staff members, and the frequent breakdown of the mobile clinics was also causing major challenges to health service delivery.
The forum heard that mobile clinics, which constitute 65 percent of primary healthcare services to rural farms and villages within ADM, were almost 20 years old and in poor mechanical condition.
As a result, ADM had been inundated with complaints from communities because their areas are not being serviced. The district is mostly rural, and primary health is the first port of call for the sick.
He said staff were also demoralised as they had to use vehicles which posed a risk to patients and staff members. "Out of 16 mobile clinic vehicles that are routinely shared among 17 mobile routes, only seven are currently in use, even though they are of poor mechanical condition.
"Some vehicles need repairs to their capsules that are falling apart. These capsules either let rain in, open up on windy days, or are very hot or too cold in extreme temperatures, posing a risk to patients, health workers and equipment."
Mlokoti said one Occupational Health and Safety officer had indicated that the condition of the vehicles constituted an "Occupational Health hazard" and that staff were not comfortable working in them.