Clinic closure ‘adds to sorrows’


The Helenvale community is demanding reasons for the closure of its clinic, saying there is no proof that violence in the area is making service delivery impossible.
A small group of protesters held a march on Thursday to again highlight the plight of community members since the clinic closed in October.
Pastor Alain Walljee said those who needed to get to the Malabar Clinic had to take taxis to travel there and private transport could cost up to R100.
“The gangsters won’t target the clinic. All their parents went there,” he said.
A handful of community members marched through the streets of Helenvale to protest at the closure of the clinic in Gail Street.
Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said the clinic had only been temporarily closed until the safety situation was sorted out.
Community worker Andre Goeda said the sudden decision had caused great suffering.
“People who are on chronic medication for HIV-Aids and TB are defaulting on their medicine,” he said.
“Sick people have to walk 3km to the clinic in Malabar and they are collapsing along the way.”
He said they fully understood that nurses at the clinic were working under great stress. “But every 10,000 people should have a clinic. We also have to live in this area.
“There are so many gangs here now that we can’t even name them all. It would just take too long.”
He said they wanted the department to follow a proper process to shut down the clinic.
“The closure of the clinic has only added to our sorrows.”
Sicwetsha said the clinic committee, representing the community, was part of the decision to close the clinic.
“The violence in the community was spilling over into the clinic, threatening the lives of staff and patients.
“We even tried to have a police vehicle stationed at the clinic to ensure the safety of staff,” Sicwetsha said.
Walljee has been working in the area since 1998.
“We had the police station commander at our planning meeting yesterday [Wednesday]. There is no [police] case number of violence happening in the clinic.
“We only know of one report of a woman who said a nurse was robbed inside the clinic,” he said.
“They can’t use the excuse of violence. We would like to know who exactly took the decision to close the clinic and what this decision was based on.”
He said the situation could be salvaged because the clinic still existed on paper and funding had been allocated to it.
Walljee said Malabar was too far for the Helenvale community to travel for assistance.
“An old lady passed out on her way while walking there,” he said.
Because there was no taxi service between Helenvale and Malabar, patients had to take two taxis to get to the clinic.
“You have to go to Korsten first and then to Malabar.
“There are people here with private cars who are offering to take people to Malabar (3km away) for between R50 and R100,” he said.
He said they had received reports of a crisis, not only for adults needing chronic medicine, but also for specialneeds children who had run out of medication.
“Their parents can’t get to Malabar to collect their medicine,” he said...

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