NCOP Delegates Delighted with Commitment Shown by Officials in Letsemeng Local Municipality

Parliament� Although there is still a lot to be done in the entire Xhariep District Municipality concerning primary health care service delivery issues, at least, the National Council of Provinces’ (NCOP) delegates were happy with some positive progress in the implementation of the NCOP’s recommendations when it visited the district last year. The delegation voiced out its delight at Ethembeni Clinic which was the second site to conduct oversight today. All staff members at this clinic showed a high level of cooperation, honesty and passion for their job and this impressed the NCOP delegation. Despite the general similar problems affecting the primary health care facilities within the district, the mere fact that Ethembeni clinic has managed to deliver on last year’s NCOP recommendations is what the delegates highly appreciated.

The clinic has resolved the issue of ablution services in particular running water supply and it also ensured to temporarily accommodate the Koffiefontein Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station and all is well and promising under the circumstances compared to the other primary health care facilities. These were two key recommendations during the NCOP Taking Parliament to the People visit in August, 2017. We thank you indeed and appreciate your commitment, we complement all staff for the job well-done, said Mr Olifile Sefako, leader of the NCOP delegation in Letsemeng Local Municipality.

The oversight visit was followed by a public meeting at Walter Sisulu Multi-purpose Centre that started at 15h00 until 18h00. At first, it seemed the meeting will be difficult to manage as public members raised concerns regarding a number of issues that were raised at the same meeting last year but are still not resolved particularly pertaining to the NCOP recommendations. These were complaints concerning serious challenges in the area of infrastructure and maintenance. Public members strongly criticized the Xhariep District Health office for primary health care facilities such as Luckhoff Clinic and Oppermansgronde Clinic that are very small and require special attention for renovations or refurbishment. Also, numerous complaints were mainly focused to a clinic in Jacobsdal that has a high maintenance backlog dating back from 2016. This clinic is further burdened by serious running water supply challenges that community members urged for all these to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Furthermore, the primary health care facilities in Letsemeng Local Municipality do not have functional Clinic Health Committees, except for Ethembeni Clinic. The Clinic Health Committees are health governance structures, created to provide an avenue for communities to give input and feedback into the planning, delivery and organisation of health services and play an oversight role in the development and implementation of health policies and provision of equitable health services. Most public members repeatedly raised this issue and questioned the failure to ensure this one of the NCOP key recommendations is being implemented. Also, worthy to be noted were complaints regarding shortage of mobile clinics, ambulance services, commuter transport, ambulance pick up and slow response times, shortage of permanent doctors and professional nurses, long queues and waiting periods at clinics. In addition, community members mainly complained about the fact that there is no 24- hour service primary health care centre in the whole Xhariep District.

Later, the public members calmed down when the NCOP delegation provided the opportunity for all the relevant local departments to respond on the complaints and the issues raised emanating from the 2017 NCOP recommendations.

It emerged that most of the concerns are partially responded to, and the District Health office is progressively in the process to resolve these issues. To count a few; Transport at provincial level has procured additional mobile clinic vehicles to be allocated equitably. The district has received primary health care mobile bus in January 2018 and servicing the farms. Currently all primary health care facilities in the district have implemented the Health Patient Registration System (HPRS) which is a web based system, which provides for the filling of patients records by their HPRS number. In the long term the Provincial Health Department intends to implement an automated patient record. Unfortunately, there is no funding during the 2018/2019 financial year to operate a 24 hour facility in Letsemeng sub district. The Chief Directorate has committed to provide bore holes Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) as back up for water and electricity. The district has procured 10 World Health organisation vaccine fridges to provide for the vaccines and stock requiring refrigeration in cases of power outages. Provision has been made for seven more fridges during the current financial year. The province has procured 60 Ambulances, Xhariep District Municipality will receive 10 ambulances and 4 ambulances will be allocated to Letsemeng sub-district. This will help to appoint additional staff members who will be responsible to collect patients from age 60 and above including those on wheelchairs (disabled) directly from their homes instead of the pick-up points.

Lastly, the NCOP delegation re-emphasized its recommendations over the past two days that, ‘There should be a Technical Inter-governmental Relations team meeting that comprises the office of the Premier, the office of the MEC for Health, the office of the Mayor, Xhariep Health District, and other relevant stakeholders to address infrastructure, maintenance, and water issues in health facilities of Letsemeng. This to be coordinated by the Xhariep District Health within two weeks from today. It further recommended that the Portfolio Committee on Health (Free State Legislature) and the Select Committee on Social Services should follow up on the progress made on NCOP recommendations both last in 2017 and this year.’

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa