News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday July 22nd 2019

Patients issue disease scare over hospital toilets

Brenda Nkuna

A patient having to use newspaper because no toilet paper was available, a lack of soap to wash hands despite government championing hand washing as a way to fight disease, flies in the toilets and basins filled with cigarette butts.

These are some of the complaints voiced by patients about toilet facilities at two provincial health facilities in Cape Town.

But the Western Cape health department, although admitting to an initial shortage of resources, has blamed the conditions on an increase in vandalism.

Elizabeth Ngwane, 54, said she was “disgusted” at how state health facilities catered for poor people who could not afford private health care.

Ngwane, who lives in Khayelitsha but works in the Cape Town CBD, said she was a regular visitor to the provincially run Robbie Nurock Community Health Clinic (CHC) in the inner city.

She said she had previously been forced to use newspaper when going to the toilet after being told by a nurse that there was no toilet paper available for patients.

She said she had been angered by the number of flies in the toilets and the absence of soap to wash her hands.

“Just because we get free treatment it does not mean they must treat us the worst. How will we heal?” she asked.

Another patient Peggy Mjuza, 32, from Observatory, said she was a regular visitor to Groote Schuur Hospital.

She said hospital toilets were filled with smoke because patients decamped to the toilets to smoke, leaving the basins filled with cigarette butts.

She said there was no toilet paper or soap in the toilets, some of which she said were not properly cleaned.

TAC provincial coordinator Fredalene Booysen said there were “serious problems” in Western Cape health facilities.

She said the TAC believed a shortage of trained health workers and lack of infrastructure were some of the problems.

Booysen said this meant patients “did not get the best treatment”.

Provincial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever admitted to an initial shortage of toilet paper at Robbie Nurock CHC, but said the matter had been dealt with, as had the cleanliness of toilets.

However, he said there was “large scale vandalism” which resulted in the theft of items such as soap dispensers and toilet paper.

Notices had been put up for people to request access to these items.

Van der Heever said increased security would be implemented during the current financial year by way of a CCTV camera system at Groote Schuur Hospital.

He said although 24-hour monitoring was not possible, measures had been put in place to ensure frequent inspections were done and soap and toilet paper were replenished.

Although van der Heever could not provide figures on the number of vandalism cases, he said action would be taken by the police if anyone was found guilty of vandalism. — West Cape News

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