TAC pickets Michael Mapongwana baby unit

| Mary-Anne Gontsana
TAC members picket outside the Michael Mapongwana Clinic in Harare, Khayelitsha, after receiving complaints about the poor state of the clinic’s baby unit. Photo by Lumkile Sizila.

“There is no privacy, you are asked in front of everyone what your baby’s HIV status is. It is dirty and the staff is very disrespectful in the way they speak to patients. I don’t go to that clinic anymore; it’s been a year now. Because of their treatment I did something I shouldn’t have done, I tested my child for HIV myself, because I too work at a clinic.”

This experience of a woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, is one of the reasons the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) held a picket outside the Michael Mapongwana Community Health Clinic in Khayelitsha on 13 August. There have been numerous complaints about the conditions at the clinic’s baby unit.

The TAC’s Pam Ntshuntsha said, “We picketed outside the Michael Mapongwana Clinic because of the conditions that we saw when we visited the baby unit on Tuesday [12 August] as well as the complaints we received from patients.”

Ntshuntsha described what she saw: “It is a stand-alone, office-like room where mothers take their babies to be weighed or for check-ups. Inside, the floor is concrete. There was a bin filled with dirty nappies and the nurses on duty had a terrible attitude towards the mothers. The place is unhygienic and too small for the amount of mothers who visit it daily. When it is a busy day, mothers have to queue outside with their babies even if it’s cold.”

One mother, Sitheliswa Bolski, told GroundUp: “This place is too small, we undress our children outside at times when we take them for weighing because there is not enough space inside.”

Another mother, Fezeka Magwana, said, “Most of the time we wait a long period before we are attended to and our children can fall sick because of crawling around on this concrete floor next to a bin filled with dirty nappies.”

The TAC’s provincial organiser, Lumkile Sizila, said they would draft a memorandum stating their demands and would send it to the provincial department of health.

No one from the clinic GroundUp approached was available or at liberty to comment. Inquiries were referred to the provincial department who are still to reply.

TOPICS:  Health HIV Sanitation TB

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