17 July 2018

South Africa: Hammanskraal Hospital Tells SAHRC That It Hasn't Had to Treat Any Cholera Patients

Jubilee District Hospital in Hammanskraal says it has not had to treat any cases of cholera, or seen an increase in the number of patients who have diarrhea.

This is despite the fact that residents in the north of Pretoria have complained about the water in the area, alleging that it could be contaminated with cholera because of its colour and smell.

Jubilee's clinical manager Dr Olebogeng Modise said if it had an influx of patients suffering from diseases caused by water contamination, the hospital would have picked it up.

He said the hospital had also taken water samples for testing at an independent laboratory and the results had returned with no form of cholera detected.

"We have not noticed any increase in the number of cases of diarrhoeal cases, and we have not treated isolated cholera cases. We, therefore, do not think there is an outbreak at this point," Modise said.

Modise said, because there was scarcity of water in the area, the hospital purchased bottled water.

"We have environmental health officers on site who inspect and run tests on water quality every month and they have not picked up anything," Modise said.

On Tuesday, the South African Human Rights Commission's Gauteng office visited the hospital unannounced to conduct an inspection, following complaints from residents. They alleged that there were poor services at the hospital, long waiting times before they were assisted, and that water in the area was not safe for consumption.

The SAHRC provincial manager, Buang Jones, interacted with the somewhat shy patients at the packed casualty and out patient department, who complained that they had been waiting since the early hours of the morning.

"Sometimes you get here in the morning and you will wait and be assisted later. You then end up leaving the hospital at about 15:00 sometimes," a patient told Jones.

Patients also complained that their files sometimes went missing and that they had to renew their files each time they returned.

SAHRC Provincial manager Buang Jones interacting with patients at hospital. (Sesona Ngqakamba,News24)

' We are also struggling to retain South African doctors'

The hospital says it serves patients who travel from as far as North West and Mpumalanga.

Modise said most clinics in the area did not operate over a 24-hour period, which also led to an influx of patients at Jubilee hospital.

"Ideally, OPD patients waiting time is up to four hours. The problem is that, because the influx of patients, therefore leads to the waiting times sometimes exceeding," Modise said.

Modise added that the hospital currently operated with 37 full-time doctors, three of whom would be leaving at month end.

"We are also struggling to retain South African doctors because they complain about being overworked and they move to private hospitals," hospital CEO Damaria Lydia Magano said.

The SAHRC says it will assess its findings, and will write a formal letter to the hospital after it's finished its preliminary investigations.

It said it had also written a letter to the City of Tshwane and the provincial Department of Water and Sanitation, inviting them to appear before the commission on Thursday.

Jones said they hoped that the meeting with the departments would determine the causes of the recent violent protest action in Hammanskraal, and the steps taken by the City and the department in relation to the resident's allegations of contaminated water.

Source: News24

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