Mobile Clinic at Umhlanga.
Mobile Clinic at Umhlanga.

Patients air ill feelings over clinic facility

By Gugu Mbonambi Time of article published Sep 16, 2011

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Gugu Mbonambi

WHEN urine samples are required, patients run around in the open looking for a secluded spot in which to urinate, or go to nearby shops or restaurants and ask if they can use the toilet.

This is the lot of patients receiving treatment from a mobile clinic in central Umhlanga. They have complained about the lack of privacy and appalling conditions at the facility.

In addition, chairs placed outside the clinic have no shelter. Patients have to sit in the rain or heat because the clinic – a converted panel van – can only accommodate one patient at a time.

Women added that the van was not the ideal facility in which to conduct procedures like Pap smears and antenatal examinations, HIV testing and counselling.

Zandile Ngcobo said the clinic’s doors were often left open during consultations on hot days and when overweight people were being treated, because of the cramped space.

“There is no privacy and people outside can hear what is being said inside when you are being treated. The municipality must find a facility for us; we thought the mobile clinic was a temporary arrangement, but it has been here since March,” she said.

Ntombi Qasha, 24, said the conditions at the clinic were “inhumane”.

“I am four months pregnant so I have to urinate frequently. Because there are no toilets provided, we have to beg restaurants to let us use their ablution facilities,” she said.

In January, Umhlanga residents staged protests to prevent the municipality from closing their library and clinic to make way for residential and commercial developments where the facilities stood.

Ward councillor Heinz de Boer said they were told about a year ago that the city had a plan to relocate the clinic, but that plan had not materialised.

“We battled to even get the mobile clinic… The circumstances in which people are being treated is disgusting, and for staff to work in such conditions leaves much to be desired,” he said.

De Boer said he had sent various e-mails to the municipality’s health department, including one about a private clinic that was willing to accommodate the facility at no cost to the council, but nothing had been done.

The department’s Dr Ayo Olowolagba said the clinic, which had been operating since March 28, saw between 65 and 90 patients a day.

He could not say when a permanent site would be found for the clinic, adding that the department had been searching for a suitable site without success.

Olowolagba said the private clinic found by De Boer was not suitable for the pro- vision of the services required of a primary level clinic.

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