Clinic just a sick excuse for a health facility

Lefisoane clinic in Mpumalanga where patients say there is no privacy or dignity.
Lefisoane clinic in Mpumalanga where patients say there is no privacy or dignity.

Nursing staff and residents of a village in Mpumalanga have decried the appalling conditions at a local clinic which has no sanitation and running water and is so small that the privacy of patients is compromised.

The clinic, which was built three decades ago, caters for residents of Lefiswane and others from two surrounding villages.

Sowetan visited the clinic recently and spoke to patients who complained about the humiliation they face there, saying the clinic is so small that they are forced to carry their urine samples from one of the three pit toilets outside, through the public waiting area to a nurse.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the two nurses at the clinic said that without running water, sanitation is compromised and could lead to the spread of diseases.

"The clinic was built more than 30 years ago. It has no running water and patients, up to 40 at a given time, have to share three dilapidated pit toilets outside. We have no water and have to rely on neighbouring houses for drinking water," the nurse said.

The clinic is the size of a typical four-roomed township house. It has three sections: the waiting area, consultation room and a dispensary.

The nurse said people on ARV treatment chose to go to clinics in neighbouring villages for their medication because there was no privacy at the clinic.

"We just do not have space to work so the privacy of patients is compromised. There are two of us here and we work really hard to serve the community but the environment is terrible. "Sometimes it is so full that people have to wait outside, even when it rains. Nobody deserves such treatment, especially when it comes to primary healthcare. People have to wait for long hours without water or a place to sit," the nurse said.

Lefisoane clinic in Mpumalanga has three pit toilets.
Lefisoane clinic in Mpumalanga has three pit toilets.

Community leader Malesela Mothibi said former MEC for health in the province, Gillion Mashego, visited the clinic in 2015 and committed to either create some relief booths or build a new clinic.

"To date nothing has happened of that promise. The appalling conditions in this clinic disqualify it to be a clinic," Mothibi said. "The situation has deteriorated to a health hazard. Imagine an old man having to carry a glass tube with his urine sample from the outside toilet into the waiting area. Where is our dignity?"

Olga Letseka, 23, said she visited the clinic to test for HIV but decided to leave when she realised that there was no privacy. "I realised that the people waiting in the small waiting area would know what I was there for. I decided to go to another clinic, about 5km away, to be tested.

"People only go to that clinic when they really have to. We dread going to that clinic," Letseka said.

Provincial health department spokesperson Dumisani Malamule was not available for comment yesterday.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni and her entire executive visited the village yesterday to engage the community on service delivery, including the issue of the clinic.

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