No help for Polokwane man with nose overgrowth sent from pillar to post

No Help For Polokwane Man

Ismail van Schalkwyk, a 21-year-old from Polokwane, has a lump on the tip of his nose that’s been growing for the past 10 years, making it difficult for him to breathe. 

“Sometimes it doubles in size. When it’s like that, it becomes more painful,” he tells Health-e News. “Honestly, the pain keeps getting worse every day.” 

The growth on his nose has a hole at the bottom that secretes a discharge. “The yellowish stuff that comes out of the growth now limits me into certain types of sleep positions. For instance, I can’t sleep while facing up because it will enter my nose.”

It all started in 2014 when, at the age of 11, Van Schalkwyk developed a pimple on his nose. “I just thought it is one of those puberty pimples that goes away on its own,” he says. 

The pimple didn’t clear up. Instead, it just kept growing. By 2018 it was starting to hurt. This is when Van Schalkwyk decided to get medical help. 

Going around in circles  

He went to Westernberg Clinic and was referred to Mankweng Hospital, where he was admitted on 4 December 2018 to have the growth on his nose removed. This didn’t happen and he was discharged eight days later on 12 December 2018, and told to return in January 2019. When he went back, Van Schalkwyk says he was turned away since he didn’t have an appointment card.

“I then decided to drop out of school [in 2019] because other learners were teasing me about my nose. Most of them would even call me names,” he says.  

He kept on trying to get help. In 2022 the Westernberg Clinic referred him to Pietersburg hospital. Van Schalkwyk was admitted again, but says he was only given painkillers and discharged after three days. Again, the growth wasn’t removed. 

“I have even decided to always be alone because I am tired of being asked questions regarding my nose, and what hurts me the most is the fact that I don’t even have answers.”

Living with the growth is painful both physically and mentally. Van Schalkwyk spends R400 a month buying over the counter medication to ease the pain, an amount his family can barely afford. 

“I am currently unemployed; I can’t even afford transport to go to the clinic to ask again what is wrong with me,” he says.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has deep concerns regarding patients who don’t get help when they visit public healthcare facilities. 

Patient rights 

Nileen Gale, communication specialist at SAMA, says it is important for patients to receive quality care. The failure to provide medical attention at public healthcare is an infringement on the patient’s rights.

“It is concerning that a patient, who is suffering, has reportedly not received adequate care at the facilities he has approached. This failure may point to a lack of caring and an infringement of his rights,” she says. “Such instances highlight the plight many citizens face in accessing quality care in our public facilities.” 

The association advises Van Schalkwyk and other patients to lodge complaints at the healthcare facilities, with the provincial Departments of Health, the South African Nursing Council, or the South African Human Rights Commission, when they don’t receive medical attention or care. 

Lack of response 

It’s not only Van Schalkwyk who’s not been able to get answers. On 10 March, Health-e News sent an email query to Limpopo health department spokesperson Neil Shikwabana, and later made a phone call to let him know that we sent an email with questions about Van Schalkwyk’s situation.

 But he did not respond. 

We also sent an email to the national health department on 19 March about Van Schalkwyk’s situation. We also asked what measures patients can take if they feel they didn’t get the medical care they need in public clinics and hospitals. The national spokesperson, Foster Mohale, redirected us to the provincial spokesperson. 

Shikwabana has still not responded.

We also contacted the hospitals where Van Schalkwyk was admitted, and one of the hospitals did not answer the phone. The other says they are not allowed to speak to the media, but the person we spoke with suggested that Van Schalkwyk return to the hospital for further checkups to receive assistance. 

We’ll keep in touch with Van Schalkwyk  to see if he gets the help he needs. – Health-e News


  • Oratile Kekana

    Oratile is a journalism graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology. Her journalism journey began at Zebediela FM, where she worked as a news reader. At university, she joined TUT FM as a presenter and producer. She later interned at the Polokwane Observer, where she worked as a general reporter and photographer. In her free time, she’s also a TikTok content creator.

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