Gong Gong residents bemoan bad healthcare services

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Residents of Gong Gong, near Barkly West in the Northern Cape, say primary healthcare services are in a bad state.

The clinic, which caters to at least 600 households, is run by one nurse and only opens on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Residents in need of medical attention at other times are forced to travel around 15 kilometres from Gong Gong to Barkly West to access healthcare.

Eighty-two-year-old Margaret Heyns who takes medication for low blood pressure says only receiving medical attention on certain days is a problem.”

Heyns says that as a pensioner it’s costly to have to travel to Barkly West when the clinic is closed.

“We are not okay about this because we get sick during the night and during the day, but there is no clinic; it can open during the whole week because sickness comes anytime.”

The elderly and those in need of medical attention are only helped on Tuesdays. Children and pregnant women are scheduled for Thursdays. One nurse staffs the clinic.

Resident Muriel Job says the community had no access to health services when the clinic was closed for the December holidays.

“Sometimes when you get sick on Thursdays and can’t come, you have to wait for the next Tuesday to come to our clinic because they won’t help you on that Thursday. When the sister is on leave, the clinic will be closed the whole month; they don’t open.”

The community of Gong Gong uses borehole water stored in water tanks for their water supply. When there is no electricity, water cannot be pumped from the borehole. Therefore, the clinic is frequently without water.

These residents voiced their unhappiness at the situation.

John Carvella says, “It’s a big crisis; they’re failing everybody here; they’re failing us.”

Matthews Phokoje, another resident says, “Some medications need to be refrigerated, and there is no electricity here. For the community, it’s very painful because people are getting sick; there is no time or date for that.”

Provincial health department spokesperson, Lulu Mxekezo, says nurses alternate between various satellite clinics on other days of the week. Mxekezo maintains the department is in the process of getting another nurse and repairing additional infrastructure.

“Towards the end of last year, one nurse retired, hence the challenge of servicing the clinics in the area. The department is in the process of replacing the retired nurse so that communities can be serviced, as before her retirement, the service provider was currently on site doing repairs on the electricity as well as the water. Repair work is also done to the medicine room.”

Meanwhile, the community maintains that the clinic should be open five days a week to ensure they have proper access to health care.