Marching for better health

Representatives from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the Office of the Public Protector met with upset residents to hear about poor delivery of health services in the area, including negligence and incorrect medication and injections being administered which have led to complications and even death in some cases

The TAC together with representatives from the office of the Public Protector gathered in Johannesburg earlier this month to discuss and find solutions to the health issues the communities of Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus are facing. This comes after TAC noticed that most of the complaints they have received from Ekurhuleni residents are emanating from one hospital in particular.

In 2015 Health-e News reported the story of Phila Mazibuko, who lost his 23-year-old daughter due to what he believes was negligence by the Jabulane Dumane Community Health Care Centre and Natal Spruit Hospital. His is just one of the many complainants under investigation.

Last July Mazibuko’s daughter went to the clinic after falling ill with flu-like symptoms. She was given an injection and sent home, despite being unable to walk by that stage. Her brother, who was with her at the time, got her home by calling a metered taxi. But she continued to grow sicker and was then taken by the family to Natal Spruit Hospital where she did not receive much help and later died.

Mazibuko, who lives in Vosloorus informal settlement and is unemployed, told Health-e News that he opened a case against the hospital, but nothing has since happened.

“I still have the case number, but I do not even know what to do about it,” said Mazibuko.

According to Mazibuko, he used money from his social grant to pay private lawyers to help him take on the government, as he believes his daughter died because of bad treatment and negligence. But all his efforts so far have been unsuccessful.

It’s good that we have the Office of the Public Protector. They have taken the cases and complaints from the community to investigate, and will work together with us to ensure justice is done where necessary,”

“The Treatment Action Campaign and the Public Protector are my last hope. I am begging them to help me sue this hospital,” he added, explaining that he believed that a lot of poor medical practice was happening at the health facilities around the areas of Vosloorus, Katlehong and Thokoza. If they were exposed, he believes many more people would come out and talk about their bad experiences at these health facilities.

The Office of the Public Protector and TAC collected a number of case reports (including those published by Health-e News) and promised the community that they would be investigated and attended to as soon as possible.

Maureen Mabasa, who is an outreach officer for the Public Protector’s office, said “We investigate the government nationally, provincially and locally with regard to maladministration, undue delays and many other issues.”

Mabasa advised people in the community with complaints to write to the management of the facility where they received poor treatment. She said they should explain their case and ask for a proper, written response within a stipulated period.

“When we investigate cases we need evidence in black and white. We cannot do investigations if there is no evidence of any wrongdoing,” she said.

According to Tsweu Mosedi of the TAC, the community event where the people were given a chance to raise their complaints to the TAC and the Public Protector’s Office came after unsuccessful meetings the TAC had had with Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital’s complaints management few months ago.

“It’s good that we have the Office of the Public Protector. They have taken the cases and complaints from the community to investigate, and will work together with us to ensure justice is done where necessary,” said Mosedi.

He told Health-e News that they will continue to advocate for the rights of people to access quality health services, as was guaranteed by the Constitution of South Africa, and to continue to hold the relevant authorities and persons accountable for their service delivery to the people.