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N Cape clinics without power

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“The current conditions at the clinics are a breeding ground for medico-legal and other health-related risks"

Picture: Itumeleng English

UNPAID bills amounting to thousands of rand have left the Paballelo and Straussburg clinics without electricity for more than a week, not only resulting in a major inconvenience to staff at the two facilities, but also raising concerns for the health and well-being of members of the public.

In a statement issued by the DA yesterday, the party’s provincial leader, Andrew Louw, called on the Department of Health (DOH) to settle the outstanding account with the Dawid Kruiper Municipality in Upington, adding that the combination of warm weather conditions and the current lack of refrigeration facilities, due to the power outages, were not conducive to storing medication.

In response to media enquiries, the DOH said yesterday that electricity at the two facilities had been restored.

“R140 000 worth of immunisations have had to be stored in cool temperatures at an alternative venue with electricity,” Louw said. “This, in turn, resulted in the nurse having to drive up and down at her own expense, leading to even longer queues at the already dysfunctional clinics.

“Clinics simply cannot function without electricity and it is unacceptable that consultations and diagnoses must be done in the dark.

“The current conditions at the clinics are a breeding ground for medico-legal and other health-related risks,” Louw claimed.

“The health department needs to urgently pay its debt to enable the nurses to deliver proper health care services to the communities.”

Spokesperson for the DOH, Lebogang Mahajang, said that electricity at the two facilities had been restored as the department had prioritised municipal accounts.

“Upon receipt of the notification, the MEC activated management and this resulted in the restoration of electricity at both facilities,” he said.

“Makatong encourages health governance structures representing communities to continue to report such incidents.

“With regards to matters relating to outstanding debts to suppliers, the department has reviewed the financial powers and delegations allocated to district health managers to ensure compliance of a 30 days’ payment.”

– Murray Swart