News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Friday December 15th 2017

City against the wall over controversial Du Noon clinic

After shutting down the sub-standard Du Noon clinic since Friday last week, the Du Noon Health Committee – formed by residents in conjunction with the City of Cape Town in 2010 – agreed to reopen the clinic after a tense meeting with city health officialson Thursday last week.

Residents have forced the closure of the clinic due to the substandard conditions of the building which was originally a storage facility for RDP housing materials.

It took a great deal of pleading by City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for health Lungiswa James and the city’s Health District Manager Gloria Sifanelo, to persuade residents to allow the clinic to temporarily reopen to allow for the treatment of TB and HIV positive patients.

The residents’ Health Committee agreed to the temporary measure, while young children and mothers would receive treatment at the Table View clinic approximately 10km from the township.

City officials, who agreed that a free minibus service would be approved for Du Noon mothers and children to Table View, said the re-opening was an interim measure while the clinic was being revamped.

“ARVs and TB (medication) are critical, at least allow us to treat infectious people,” pleaded Sifanelo to the five members of the health committee – a contentious point as it would singly out HIV and TB sufferers, infringing on their right to confidentiality.

However, she said she understood it was “inhumane” to treat people within the current conditions at the clinic and interim measures were being put in place to improve matters over the short term.

The city thus agreed to provide generators as the electricity often tripped at the clinic and has also provided standing fans to improve ventilation in the substandard building.

Sifanelo said they could not build a new clinic as that responsibility lay with the province, but would undertake renovations to the existing structure.

“We are suffering because of the province,” said Sifanelo. “The anger was not supposed to be channeled to us. The province was supposed to come up with a new structure,” she said.

Underscoring the need for a well-functioning clinic to serve the township of over 50 000 people, a mother brought an infant into the clinic while the meeting was taking place.

Nurses jumped up and examined the infant before calling an ambulance to take the child to Somerset Hospital. A Nurse said the child was “critically” ill.

The Health Committee gave the city a deadline of February 13 for the completion of a revamp to the clinic so as to allow mothers and children to resume treatment there.

The residents would burn the clinic down if the city did not meet their February 13 deadline, said Du Noon Health Committee member Nolubabalo Mtombeni.

Health committee deputy chairperson Ntombekhaya Gqobo demanded to know why residents always had to protest in order to get attention from authorities.

Gqobo, visibly angry, also raised the point that allowing TB and HIV positive people only to receive treatment at the clinic alerted residents as to who was HIV positive or sick with TB which violated their constitutional right to confidentiality.

“People coming to fetch ARVs will be known. It’s a discriminatory decision. HIV-Aids still has stigma attached to it, same as TB,” said James. – Peter Luhanga

Tags: Du Noon Clinic, Du Noon Health Committee, Gloria Sifanelo, Lungiswa James, Nolubabalo Mtombeni, Ntombekhaya Gqobo, Table View clinic

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