By Langa Bodlani (MPL), DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Health:
The DA is concerned by the extremely low number of Primary Health Care Facilities (PHCF) which operate on a 24 hours basis in Limpopo. This effectively means that access to health is denied to thousands of villagers in our province.
This state of affairs was recently revealed by a response from the Provincial Department of Health to the Portfolio Committee of Health.
According to this response, for the entire Sekhukhune District which includes Fetakgomo, Greater Tubatse, Makhuduthamaga, Ephraim Mogale, Elias Motswaledi there are only 2 health centres operating on 24 hours basis. This is out of a total of 27 clinics and health care centres in this district.
In the Vhembe District out 88 PHCFs only 17 operate on 24 hours basis. This is a vast geographical area which includes Makhado, Thulamela and Musina.
In Mopani a mere 10 out of 91 health facilities offer a 24 hour service to the communities.
The figures in the Capricorn District are 8 out of 56 primary health care facilities operating on 24 hour service.
In the Waterberg District, only 9 out 26 offer 24 hour services.
The rest of the clinics and health care centres which are not on 24 hour service are described as being On Call. This means that a patient in distress can call to get help. This is not enough as the difficulties associated with making a call to a clinic are well documented. To compound this problem a great number of our villages have network signal problems.
Overall a meagre 46 clinics and health centres operate on a 24 hour basis in Limpopo. The Provincial Department of Health with the budget of R14.8 billion for the current financial year comes only second to education in terms of budget allocation, yet only keeps 46 facilities open 24 hours for millions of people across the province.
The DA calls on Health MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe to increase the number of clinics which operate on a 24 hours basis. This will greatly benefit our communities especially those in the rural villages who have to travel long distances to get to a hospital. Clinics and health care centres are the closest to the communities and should be the first point of contact when a person is in need of health care. It is therefore of utmost importance that more of them should open on a 24 hour service.