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Tired of long queues, patients demand a second clinic

By Anita Dangazele

Patients at the NU11 clinic in Motherwell, the largest township in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, are appealing to the health department to build them a second clinic.

They told Scrolla.Africa that they are forced to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to avoid waiting in long queues and being turned away.

The clinic services thousands of people from more than five areas in the Nelson Mandela Bay township, namely NU10, NU11, NU12, NU12B, NU29 and NU30.

Some patients say they wake up as early as at midnight to secure their spots in the queue to avoid being turned away. The clinic closes at four in the afternoon, and those still waiting by closing time get turned away.

Patient Nombuyiselo Zito said she had been turned away from the clinic the previous day for that reason.

“I got here at 05:15 am today because yesterday the clinic closed before I could get in. I’ve again not gone to work, because I need my chronic medication,” she said.

Another patient, Somikazi Mbali, said the NU29 area used to have a mobile clinic but that it’s no longer operational. Mbali emphasised that patients do not want a mobile clinic. They want a clinic to be established closer to where they live.

The queues at the clinic are so long that they stretch to the end of the street. Patients say they’re forced to stand in the street even on rainy days, as there is no shelter and not enough space to accommodate them in the yard.

Residents say the clinic is overcrowded and understaffed. Due to the expansion of the informal settlements in NU29, the NU11 clinic is severely strained, which is why they want a clinic in the area.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health promised earlier this year that staff and medication shortages would be addressed in this financial year. These are problems in many clinics across the province.

The failure to fill vacant posts has led to many strikes.The departmental spokesperson in the province, Yonela Dekeda, said R700 million had been set aside to fill 2,940 vacancies.

“The department has assigned a chief architect to Nelson Mandela Bay to assist with the planning and alignment of infrastructure in accordance with the recently adopted health optimisation plan. The procurement process [is in an] advanced stage,” said Dekeda.

The NU11 clinic was in the news in August for turning away a teenager who had allegedly been kidnapped and raped, and who later died in a police station. Zenizole Vena, 15, was found by a passerby, who took her to the clinic, where she was allegedly told that rape victims were not treated there. She was allegedly told to go to a police station, where she died while waiting for an ambulance.

Pictured above: Patients queuing at NU11 clinic

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