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Community raises concerns at Khayelitsha Health Summit

6 December 2010
Speakers take part in the Health Summit held in Khayelitsha. Photo: Nondumiso Ntsengentsu

Speakers take part in the Health Summit held in Khayelitsha. Photo: Nondumiso Ntsengentsu

Khayelitsha residents came in great numbers to the two-day Health Summit that was held at Isiphiwo Primary School in Harare on Saturday and Sunday, 20-21 November. This was their chance to voice their concerns regarding health care service delivery. 

SANGOCO Western Cape, People’s Health Movement South Africa, DKT International, City of Cape Town, and other role players in public health met with the members of the community discuss these issues.

Funders and sponsors like Capitec Bank gave messages of support at the Summit and the current status of health in Khayelitsha was discussed by Dr Virginia Azevedo of the City Health Department.

In her presentation, Dr Azevedo showed that there is a high mortality rate for children under the age of 5 with Gastro-Aids. The high number of people who are suffering from womb cancer shows the poor access to antenatal care in Khayelitsha, compared to other areas like Michell’s plain.

Professor Nomafrench Mbombo, a deputy director at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) School of Nursing said antenatal care during pregnancy is of great importance, so that problems with the health of the mother or the baby can be diagnosed at an early stage. “No woman should die unnecessary,” she said.

Health issues that are of concern to the community of Khayelitsha was discussed at the Health Summit. Photo: Nondumiso Ntsengentsu

Health issues that are of concern to the community of Khayelitsha was discussed at the Health Summit. Photo: Nondumiso Ntsengentsu

According to Mbombo there is a high demand for community participation in issues regarding primary health care.

At the Summit, the community was given a chance to raise the issues they have regarding health in their areas. The fact that there are people who have to take treatment on an empty stomach, is one issue that is of great concern to the community.

Mama Mangconde from Makhaza initiated a project in December 2006 to give food to patients while they are waiting for the doctors. But they had to cancel the project due to financial problems. This has made the situation worse, as there is now no hope for the patients of getting food on their way back home. Mangconde said they need more help from the government and funders, so that they can give back to the needy.

Organisations like DKT International did surveys in Khayelitsha and found that males refused to go to a clinic, as they do not want to be examined by a woman. They also discovered that people refused to test for HIV when they went to the clinic regarding a sexually transmitted infection (STI’s ).There is still a stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS in these areas, which makes it hard for people to get tested. They are scared of what other people might think if they went into the testing room.

NGO’s, NPO’s, CBO’s, government and funders were asked to take hands to make Khayelitsha a better, healthier place.

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