The Justice and Peace (J&P) commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has called on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate rights violations and deprivation of mobile clinic services in some parts of the KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West Province.
SACBC chairman Bishop Abel Gabuza said in a statement on Wednesday that the health department had done a good job introducing mobile 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.”
Bishop Gabuza said the delivery problems included drug stock outs, capacity issues in the context of growing rural population, and poorly located mobile sites.
Justice and Peace Commission is also concerned about the unavailability of mobile clinics in some areas — sometimes for more than two months‚ especially during the rainy season‚ when roads and bridges are in a bad state.
He also said there are places in Limpopo where farm workers allege that farm owners have policies that restrict their access to mobile services. “We have asked the human rights commission to investigate such allegations.”
The current complaint covers 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 the remote rural communities in South Africa.”
According to SACBC Justice and Peace, the national investigation should seek to obtain a greater understanding of the challenges facing such communities and the health department and to identify practical measures to address these challenges.
The investigation should, among other things, cover the following issues:
- Factors that impede availability of mobile clinic services in the beneficiary communities, including issues of road networks;
- The quality of services in the mobile clinic system, including issues of drug stock-outs and staff rudeness;
- The adequacy in budget allocation and strategic planning in relation to mobile clinic services;
- The challenges and gaps in legislation and policies.