KZN Health charged with disrespecting people with disabilities

By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Quality of Life:

MEMBERS of the KZN Quality of Life portfolio committee yesterday charged the province’s Health department with disrespecting people with disabilities, following a disastrous campaign at a rural Zululand clinic earlier this month.

According to a report tabled before the committee, at least 70 disabled people had to make their own way to a Disability and Awareness campaign at Ntambanana clinic on 5 November. This after the department failed to arrange any transport.

To add to this, the clinic did not know about the departmental initiative until that day while some patients who arrived at 6am had to wait the entire day as only one physiotherapist was made available. Shockingly, no water or refreshments were provided.  Meanwhile, staff from the department only arrived at the clinic at 10am.

The DA is incensed by this lack of compassion and inadequate planning and the impact that it would have had on already vulnerable citizens.   One can only begin to imagine how difficult it would be to get there in a wheelchair. The mere thought of the discomfort of the people on that day is heartbreaking.

The department is always full of promises to provide assistive devices during visits such as this, as well as the sectoral parliament dedicated to people with disabilities.  Yet the volume of complaints indicates that they are being badly let down.

The DA will write to MEC Dhlomo today.  We will suggest that on such visits student physiotherapists as well as students in orthotics from DUT, at the appropriate level of training, accompany department staff to observe first-hand the needs of communities as well as to assist in seeing people more quickly.

We will also be sending parliamentary questions to KZN COGTA MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, on the role, functions and responsibilities of Disability Desks in municipalities and their whereabouts on that particular day.

This entire incident is unacceptable and the KZN Health department needs to be far more responsible in future. The DA expects more empathy and consideration for the needs of others.