Orlando West clinic without running water, working toilets

Mpumalanga Department of Health officials deny that patients were turned away during recent water shortages (File photo)
The original contractor tasked with fixing water and sanitation at the clinic absconded without fixing the problem, allege clinic staff.
The original contractor tasked with fixing water and sanitation at the clinic absconded without fixing the problem, allege clinic staff.

In mid-April, a bout of diarrhoea sent Sindiswa Mngoma to the clinic. When she had to use the clinic’s toilet, she was mortified.

“Since I had this diarrhoea I had to go to toilet (and) that is when found out that toilets are not flushing,” said Mngoma who added that it was clear that she had not been the only to try to use the toilet that day. “Then I went to wash my hands and there was no running water in taps.”

On a recent visit to vaccinate her six-month-old baby, Zodwa Mthembu was also shocked at a lack of running water when she wanted to wash her hands after changing her baby’s nappy.

Regular hand washing is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection. It is especially important for health workers in order to protect their patients from infection. The World Health Organisation says that health workers should wash their hands before and after touching a patient, before procedures and after coming into contact with bodily fluids like blood, urine or faeces.

Children like Mthembu’s tiny infant are particularly vulnerable to infections. Diarrhoeal diseases, which can be caused by exposure to faecal matter, are a leading cause of death among South African children under the age of five years old, according to the Medical Research Council.

Contractor abandons job, says staff

[quote float=”right”]“Our community forum has tried to intervene but nothing has happened even (though) are whistle blowers”

Community Forum Thoko Mchunu says problems at the Mandela Sisulu Clinic are nothing new.

“It is been a long time that the Mandela Sisulu Clinic has been having problems that are not solved,” she said. “Our community forum has tried to intervene but nothing has happened even (though) are whistle blowers.”

Treatment Action Campaign member Xolile Sawuka confirmed patient allegations on a recent visit to the clinic.

One clinic staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed water and sanitation problems at the clinic but said that management had called a contractor two weeks ago to fix the pipes.

The contractor had only partially completed the job and had not returned, said the staff member.

Ward 36 Councillor Matlakala Sefolo said she had been unaware about the clinic’s problems but voted to call a meeting to address the problem.

Gauteng Department of Health Spokesperson Prince Hamnca confirmed that there facility contractors are currently on site fixing the taps and the toilets. Hamnca added that the water and sanitation problems were a result of vandalism.

A meeting regarding the matter has also been scheduled between the Department of Health District manager and Sefolo.

Additional reporting by Sibongile Nkosi

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