Church calls for Probe into State of SA Mobile Clinics
The health department has done a good job introducing mobile health services in remote rural areas — but in some, the system is dysfunctional and ineffective in addressing the health needs of rural communities, according to the Justice and Peace Commission (J&P) of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
J&P has asked the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate rights violations and delivery failures in mobile clinic services in first, parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West Province, and then in other provinces with extensive rural areas.
J&P chairman Bishop Abel Gabuza said delivery problems include drug stock-outs, capacity issues in the context of growing rural populations, and poorly located mobile sites.
J&P is also concerned about the unavailability of mobile clinics in some areas — sometimes for more than two months‚ especially during the rainy season‚ when roads and bridges are in a bad state.
Access to Clinics Restricted
“There are places in Limpopo where farm workers allege that farm owners have policies that restrict their access to mobile services,” Bishop Gabuza noted.
While the initial focus is on selected remote communities in the three provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West, “we are aware of similar situations in other rural provinces, especially Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape, and have therefore asked the Human Rights Commission to consider a national investigative hearing into the state of mobile clinics in remote rural communities in South Africa,” the bishop said.
According to J&P, the national investigation should seek to obtain a greater understanding of the challenges facing such communities and the health department, and identify practical measures to address them.
Many, Many Problems
The investigation should, among other things, cover the following issues: factors that impede availability of mobile clinic services in the beneficiary communities, including issues of road networks; the quality of services in the mobile clinic system, including issues of drug stock-outs and staff rudeness; the adequacy in budget allocation and strategic planning in relation to mobile clinic services; the challenges and gaps in legislation and policies.
For more information, e-mail Bishop Gabuza at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 053 831 1861 or 082 549 4324.