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Mobile clinic system collapse in KZN, Limpopo and North West

The Catholic Bishops have asked the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the breakdown of the mobile clinic system in some parts of the Kwazulu Natal,  Limpopo and North West Province.

“We have asked the human rights commission to investigate rights violations and deprivation of mobile clinic services in several remote rural communities in three provinces:  North West, Limpopo and Kwazulu Natal.” said the Catholic Bishops in a statement.

“We acknowledge that the health department has done a good job in introducing mobile services to address problem of inaccessibility of basic health services in remote rural areas.  However, in some rural areas, the mobile service system is dysfunctional and ineffective in addressing health needs of rural communities.

The Catholic Bishops said the delivery problems includes drug stock outs, capacity issues in areas where mobile clinics are not able to meet the demands of a growing rural population and poor location of delivery site of mobile services.

“In some areas, we are also concerned with unavailability of mobile clinics, sometimes for more than two months, especially during rainy season as a result of bad state of road networks and bridges.   There are, for example, three communities (Nkotswi in Limpopo,  Hlambanyathi in Kwazulu Natal, Ophondweni in Kwazulu Natal) where mobile clinics are unavailable for weeks (and sometimes months) during rainy season because of low bridges.  During rainy season, the low bridges remain over-flooded for several weeks, rendering the road unpassable for mobile clinics.

There are also few areas in Limpopo where farm workers allege that farm owners have policies that restrict their access mobile services.  We have asked the human rights commission to investigate these allegations.

The Catholic Bishops says they have requested the SAHRC for investigation into rights violation cover a selected remote communities in three provinces:  Kwazulu Natal, Limpopo and North West.

“We are however aware of similar situations in other rural provinces, especially the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape.

“We have therefore asked the human rights commission to consider a national investigative hearing into the state of mobile clinics in South Africa.

“We would like such an investigation to obtain a greater understanding of the challenges facing such communities and the health department and to identify practical measures to address these challenges.

According to the Catholic Bishops the investigation should, among other things, cover the following issues:  

(1) factors that impede availability of mobile clinic services in the beneficiary communities, including issues of road networks;

(2) the quality of services in the mobile clinic system, including issues of drug stock-outs and staff rudeness;

(3) the adequacy in budget allocation and strategic planning in relation to mobile clinic services; (4) the challenges and gaps in legislation and policies.