In 2012, the Eastern Cape provincial government failed to pay rent for the clinic’s previous premises. Forced to relocate, clinic staff operated for a period of time out of tents without electricity, running water or decent sanitation.
Following months of media coverage by OurHealth and other outlets – as well as threats of litigation by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) – Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi intervened. In July, work began on a temporary clinic and plans were tabled for the construction of a permanent building.
But Village Clinic patients say that the temporary structures are too small and compromise patient confidentiality – and leave many out in the cold and rain.
During the recent rainy season, a lack of waiting room space meant that many patients were forced to queue in the rain after waiting rooms filled up.
Pensioner Makhwetshube Makhubalo, 67, said he waited hours in the rain to be seen after arriving at the clinic at 7am in April.
“The officials are in their comfort zone at their offices but the community is suffering,” he told OurHealth. “For how long are we going to have to have these terrible conditions?”
One of the clinic’s health workers, who preferred to remain anonymous, said additional park homes would help to accommodate more patients.
“The patients who have to wait in the rain get wet and sick with flu and fever,” she said.
The issue also came up at a recent community dialogue, according to TAC branch organiser Nonzaliseko Ntwana.
“People have been complaining about a lack of shelter,” Ntwana told OurHealth. “People fall sick because when it’s raining and they get wet – something needs to be done.”
Facility manager Ndineka Deyi said she had consulted with the district health manager and had been told that the department was in the process of finding a park home for the site.
Park homes are also slated to replace eight clinics and two hospitals in the Eastern Cape that failed to minimum standards as part of a 2011 national health facilities audit, according to a statement released by Motsoaledi in September.