The Reclaim Thusong Hospital committee in the North West says reasons cited by the Department of Health to decommission Thusong Hospital in Itsoseng do not hold water.
The decision was taken by the Department of Health last October, indicating that the hospital which was used by Itsoseng and nearby residents for decades was found to be built on dolomitic soil which was causing major structural defects and cracks.
The committee made of residents says they will now approach the courts to halt the planned demolishing of the hospital.
The Department of Health in the province says it is located in a dolomitic area which causes perpetual cracks. However, the Reclaim Thusong Hospital argues this reason is not convincing.
“The dolomites are everywhere in the world and dolomites are actually a formation of the earth. There’s no way, there’s no dolomite. The dolomites that are in North West are not threatening dolomite. Johannesburg is built on top of dolomite and all the buildings in Johannesburg are not being demolished. So we want to know what the reason is behind demolishing the Thusong hospital where there are no threats at all,” says Reclaim Thusong hospital Spokesperson, Babes Makgeledise.
The committee is now intending to approach the courts to halt the planned demolition process.
“The department of Health did not make any justice to the people of North West let me say North West in Ditsobotla region by closing our facility so we are here requesting assistance from all the people who can assist like for instance AfriForum, DA, EFF we want to take this to court because there are rumours that on Monday, they’ll be people hired at Thusong hospital to demolish our hospital,” elaborates Makgeledise.
Residents demand that the hospital be renovated. They say the capacity of one health facility is inadequate.
“People are suffering, people are dying because there are no better facilities around; there is just a clinic. They are saying people should go and attend a community health centre. The community centre doesn’t have water number one, it doesn’t have a dispensary, and it doesn’t have wards. I don’t know why they should build a hospital in Lichtenburg while we have a fully-fledged hospital that was operating as Thusong. The money that is going to build a hospital in Lichtenburg, they should use that budget to renovate, Thusong because already they are licensees and everything for Thusong,” argues resident Vincent Pheko.
The department of health says a new hospital will not be built as initially proposed. But will rather upgrade the existing hospital in Lichtenburg.
“The initial decision to close down Thusong hospital was taken back in around 2015 when then a decision was taken to build a new hospital for the entire, it’s about the region. The latest now is that there won’t be a new hospital but the old general Dela Rey will be upgraded into a district hospital together with the upgrading of Itsoseng community health centre into a hospital. The communities that are residing around where the old Thusong was are also going to receive a facility in a form of a park home for a clinic,” says North West Health department Spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane.
The department has refuted claims that the decommissioned hospital is in a dilapidated condition because of its prolonged poor maintenance.
“The department has records of maintenance of the old Thusong, the building over the years those attempts to maintain the building proved futile because even though it was been maintained on a yearly basis the cracks that we are informed by the experts are due to the dolomite conditions continued and the department then felt that to continue to maintain a building that keeps on cracking it’s taking a lot of money that could have been used for other important health services,” Lekgethwane adds.
The department of Health says Thusong Hospital will be demolished only after being handed over to the Public Works Department.