WATCH | TAC wants decisive action against health department after woman gives birth outside clinic

09 July 2019 - 07:17
By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Elina Maseko with her baby, Precious, at home in Mamelodi East.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU Elina Maseko with her baby, Precious, at home in Mamelodi East.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is calling for compensation and accountability from the Gauteng department of health after a woman gave birth outside the Stanza Bopape Community Health Centre in Mamelodi‚ Pretoria‚ after allegedly being turned away.

Elina Maseko‚45‚ gave birth last week Sunday with her niece as the "midwife" after the clinic's nurses allegedly refused to help her due to her age which rendered her a "high risk" patient.

Mamelodi TAC chairman Bobby Mohanoe said they would exhaust all measures until the National Nursing Council investigated and struck those found guilty from the roll.

"We don't want the department of health to suspend them but to actually fire them. They should also give support to the family‚" said Mohanoe.

The family said the local police station had called them and informed them that their case was not valid after the TAC took the family to the police station to open a case last week.

"We are frustrated by the SAPS . When we took the family to the police station to have the case reopened‚ it took more than five hours. They failed to have the case opened initially because they didn't know what kind of a case it is‚" Mohanoe claimed.

He said the alleged incident was a violation of the National Healthcare Act.

He also slammed nursing unions for "always" climbing on the bandwagon in support of the practitioners without consideration of the violations.

Mohanoe did not divulge the names of the unions.

Maseko‚ who gave birth to baby Precious‚ broke down in tears as she told TimesSelect about the ordeal.

"It's shocking how women would treat another woman. The system is supposed to protect us and give us dignified care‚ but then who am I?

"You get traumatised. I mean‚ imagine how scared I was after giving birth and I was asking my niece if my baby was alive‚" said Maseko.

She admitted she was not so keen on counselling as she trusted she would heal on her own.

"Precious [the baby] is healthy and okay. I was in the hospital because my blood pressure was high as a result of the treatment. I want to forget about it. But I always think about it‚ it haunts me. I didn’t deserve that treatment‚ no one does‚" Maseko said.

She said the healthcare officials at the clinic had no regard for her and the baby. "They clearly don’t know how to care for people.

"I’m not happy. This has never happened to me. I can’t forget how I cried out to my niece asking if my child was alive."

Bongile Murudu‚ who played midwife for her aunt‚ said she was shocked by the lack of care at the clinic.

She said she never imagined helping someone give birth. After Maseko's water broke just outside the security office‚ she had to help. "I could see the head of the baby. And I used my jacket to protect the baby because I didn’t want her to fall on the floor. The baby arrived‚ I then screamed and called on the nurses to come.

"That’s when they came. They asked me did I touch the baby with my dirty hands. It’s better than the baby falling on the floor and dying. That’s when they took my aunt into the clinic‚" said Murudu.

The father of the baby‚ Thomas Rakhavha‚ 50‚ said he was relieved his family was safe and healthy.

"I just want all of this to go away so I can forget it all. It's not nice. No one wants to feel unimportant like that‚ it hurts that I could have lost them over this‚" said Rakhavha.

He was also "grateful for their lives‚ that's all".

Buang Jones‚ Gauteng manager at the South African Human Rights Commission (Sahrc)‚ went to the clinic for an inspection and declared that it was not up to standard.

He found there was no proper ventilation‚ and did not have a quality assurance manager.

He said there was sufficient land adjacent to the clinic that could be developed to expand the facility‚ "as the maternity ward is too small. No filing system. Staff shortage. Maternity ward only has eight beds. Only two midwives were on duty and a student nurse. No administrative support‚ [they] only have one computer."

Jones also said some nurses were burned out‚ while there was no doctor at the facility and patients were not assessed prior to treatment.

"There are many challenges. We will send formal correspondence to the department of health into the health facility as a whole. There’s a need for an urgent funded plan to address the challenges. Most of the healthcare facilities are in a dire state‚" Jones said.

He said that the clinic could not cope with the rising demand in the community.

The commission launched an investigation into the incident.

The Gauteng health department also launched an inquiry into the matter.

* Four members of staff at the Mamelodi hospital in Gauteng have been put on special leave following a preliminary investigation conducted by the provincial health department.

This after a video showed pensioner Martha Marais lying on the floor‚ tied to a chair.

The incident sparked national outrage after the video of her plight went viral on social media and resulted in the SAHRC stepping into the fray.

Ouma Martha‚ as she is affectionately known to family and friends‚ said last week she cries constantly‚ seldom sleeps and lives in fear that her alleged abusers will come after her.