11 April 2013

South Africa: Court Action Looming Over Ecape Tent Clinic

Activists are threatening court action unless the Eastern Cape health department urgently address the dire situation at Village Clinic in Lusikisiki. The busy clinic has been operating from tents after it was evicted from the building.

Lusikisiki Village Clinic serves up to 7000 people a month in Qaukeni sub district in the Eastern Cape. The clinic had been operating out of a building in the centre of Lusikisiki since 2005. In January 2013, the Eastern Cape Department of Health moved the clinic out of the building and reopened it in an empty plot on the outskirts of town with a park home and two tents now intended to house the clinic.

Lactating mothers, young children, the elderly and the very ill now stand in long queues in the sun or rain to see a nurse or collect medication. There is no privacy in which to consult with nurses, no electricity, and only a single filthy privy toilet. Tens of thousands of Rand of medicines are stored in the heat without any security and without any cold storage facilities for medicines requiring refrigeration. Community members are forced to take two taxis to get to the clinic or to take a taxi into town and then walk the couple of kilometres to the clinic.

The Treatment Action Campaign ("TAC") has been engaging with the Eastern Cape Department of Health on the issue of Lusikisiki Village Clinic since late 2012. In February 2013 TAC asked SECTION27 for its assistance. Since then SECTION27, representing TAC, has written four letters to the MEC for Health. The MEC's responses make it clear that no proper plan exists for the delivery of decent health care services to the people who depend on Lusikisiki Village Clinic. SECTION27 has now sent a letter of demand to the MEC on TAC's behalf demanding an explanation and plan of action. Should no satisfactory response be forthcoming, TAC will have little option but to approach the courts for relief.

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