As the Lephepane clinic struggles with cracking walls and poor infrastructure, the facilities problems are compounded by contaminated water.

Staff members living in the nurse’s home discovered red worms swimming in their drinking water, said Mpapa Rakgoale, a member of clinic’s committee.

“I received call from one of nurses complaining that they have found worms inside the tap water at the nurses’ home. This is the water they have been drinking, cooking and bathing with during their stay at the facility. Those worms were as large as my middle finger,” said Rakgoale.

Drinking the polluted water will put staff members’ lives at risk. Staff already have to contend with the hazardous conditions of dilapidated walls and insufficient lighting, he added. Clinic staff have already closed off some wards because they pose a threat to staff and patients.

“We hope that when they resolve the building crisis they will also solve this water crises because a clinic cannot function without clean water,” he added.

Lephepane Clinic Contaminated Water

A sample of the worms. (Mogale Mojela)

The committee is already at “loggerheads” with the provincial health department over the slow pace of rebuilding the clinic. Rakgoale said the clinic’s committee escalated the matter to the national level.

“We have sent an email to national department of health to assist with the infrastructure challenge and ensure that they build new clinic. We understand that they are going to bring mobile clinics but we don’t want a situation where they stay longer and become our permanent facility,” he said.

Officials’ response

Health MEC spokesperson Thilivhali  Muavha did not respond to Health-e News’ questions over the polluted water.

Mopani District Municipality’ spokesperson Odas Ngobeni said while the water at the clinic is the health department’s responsibility, the municipality will test the water.

“We do tests on water quality where we are responsible for the source, including in hospitals. In instances where the water source is not ours, we only come in for water samplings as per request,” Ngobeni said. “Lephepane clinic is supplied through boreholes drilled by the department, so we may only come in when there is a request.”

“We will send someone to do water sampling, and the results will assist us to advise the department on the way forward. We will also have to disinfect their storage tanks while we wait for the results,” Ngobeni said. – Health-e News