It is a crying shame that facilities which exist to address the crucial medical needs of our communities – in a healthcare environment that is already under so much pressure – should fall victim to crime. Worse still, that staff should be threatened with violence or even attacked and injured.
The fact that crime actually forced operations to grind to a halt at two large Port Elizabeth clinics this week is an unacceptable scenario that requires our new-elected administration to take a long, hard look at what can be done to stamp out the targeting of such installations.
This is by no means a new trend – there has been a spate of such attacks on and break-ins at state hospitals and clinics over the past year where drugs like antiretrovirals have been snatched.
But it has reached a crisis of deeply distressing proportions when operations actually have to close with the New Brighton Clinic flooded because of the theft of copper pipes, while nurses – fearing for their safety after a stabbing – have resorted to a strike until their concerns are addressed.
Underlining the extent to which this scourge has escalated, only last month two security guards and a supervisor were beaten up by thugs who robbed them at the Zwide Clinic.
These are institutions which see to the medical and healthcare needs of more than 200 000 people, which goes to reinforce the urgent need for more effective scrutiny of security arrangements.
This is underscored by reports that people are not properly searched by guards.
It is a sad day when such measures are required, but if that’s what it takes to keep those who would not only threaten and rob staff, but also cut off the lifeblood of a healthcare facility by damaging its equipment, then there should be no hesitation in making stringent checks at access points compulsory.
It is therefore imperative that deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani – as political health portfolio head – makes good on his promise that a plan will be hatched.
A fully functioning health system is one of our priorities – and beefed up security is paramount because it is a preventative mechanism that can be introduced immediately.