residents cry for a proper hospital

AS President Jacob Zuma prepares for his State of the Nation Address residents of Bizana in Eastern Cape are crying out for better education and health services.

The residents of Greenville in Bizana say the hospital in their area is a "health hazard" and that it is safer for the sick to stay at home.

There are no toilets and patients relieve themselves in the grassy fields nearby. There is little medication, no running water because the water pump is broken. Laundry staff are forced to go and fetch water from nearby rivers.

The provincial health department has refuted claims that there are no medical supplies.

Residents told Sowetan that the hospital, built by the Roman Catholic Church during the apartheid era, has been left to progressively deteriorate since the democratic government took over in 1994.

"In many cases we are forced to transfer patients to the Umthatha General Hospital due to a lack of facilities," said a staff member who did not want her name published for fear of disciplinary action from the department.

She said patients risk dying and opt to go to other hospitals in the region. The hospital has three doctors who allegedly serve a population of more than 10000.

The hospital is near the Wild Coast Sun International - the biggest tourism site in the region.

Local Lulamile Sibonda said the situation was so bad that other hospitals were turning patients away.

"There is such a need that hospitals in the area cannot cope. The hospital consists of two old rondavels and a rusty big house. Part of the thatch-roofing of the rondavels has been blown away by heavy winds," Sibonda said.

Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said tenders to improve the situation and renovate the province's hospitals were already advertised.

"There is no shortage of medicine in the hospital," Kupelo added.