Madwaleni – Local chiefs joined forces with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in a drive to remedy the desperate situation at Madwaleni hospital where a lone doctor is trying to hold the fort.
Patients with serious conditions other than HIV or TB are either left to fend for themselves or are seen by inexperienced clinical supervisors who are working unsupervised. Referrals to the Mthatha Hospital Complex have stopped as the transport workers are reportedly on strike.
Madwaleni also has a large number of nursing vacancies.
Last week a small group of community members met with the local chiefs and the TAC. The community stayed away and it is believed that the hospital board members, who are accused of failing to acknowledge that there is a major crisis at the rural hospital, had intimidated them.
At the meeting TAC leader Zukile Madikizela shared details on how they had run several successful campaigns by demanding that their rights as enshrined in the Constitution are respected.
The chiefs pleaded with the TAC to educate the community by informing them of their basic human rights as well as patient rights.
They also requested that they be given more time to mobilise community members from other wards. They said that they had several patients who were eager to share their stories on how Madwaleni had failed them.
One chieftain said that she had attended a meeting at the hospital last month where provincial health officials informed them that they did not have the budget to improve conditions as Madwaleni.
She appealed to the activists to campaign for increased funding for Madwaleni.
The Chief gave a commitment that they would engage ward councillors and their boards in assisting them to mobilising communities for the next meeting.
The Save Madwaleni campaign has now been launched as part of the TAC's Resources for Health Campaign in the Eastern Cape.
* Thandi Vinjwa is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the OR Tambo health district in the Eastern Cape