Medicines stored at homes as 23 clinics without power in Eastern Cape

The New Brighton Clinic has been flooded after thieves broke in and stole copper pipes
The New Brighton Clinic has been flooded after thieves broke in and stole copper pipes

A total of 23 of the Eastern Cape’s 735clinics were operating without electricity, Health MEC Phumza Dyantyi said.

The hardest hit district was rural Alfred Nzo where 11 clinics were completely in the dark, while Buffalo City Metro’s Fort Grey clinic had also been without electricity for more than a year.

The crisis resulted in some medication that had to be kept at low temperatures being stored at villagers’ homes, health portfolio committee chairman Mxolisi Dimaza said yesterday.

Fort Grey clinic had been without electricity for almost two years because of continued cable theft and vandalism, Dyantyi told members of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature.

She was responding to DA MPL Celeste Barker’s written questions at the legislature on Wednesday.

Barker had asked how many clinics were without electricity, water and sanitation in the province.

Dyantyi said the only districts which had electricity were Nelson Mandela Bay, Chris Hani and Sarah Baartman, while other districts had some clinics that ran day-to-day services without any electricity.

In Alfred Nzo, 11 clinics were without power, with six in OR Tambo, four in Joe Gqabi and one in BCM and Amathole.

“In clinics with no electricity, vaccines are stored in gas fridges while negotiations are under way with Eskom to fast-track the process of installing electricity in all the clinics,” she said.

Referring to Fort Grey clinic, Dyantyi said: “Eskom has advised that it cannot replace that transformer again since it would be the third time they are replacing this transformer that continually gets vandalised.”

Dimaza said they wanted provincial health officials to meet Eskom and Coega officials to discuss connecting the clinics to the grid.

“In areas where there’s no electricity and the solar system doesn’t work, nurses end up asking to store the medication that must be kept under a certain temperature at people’s homes where they have refrigerators. “ We ’re dealing with people’s lives here.”

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