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Community involvement in health care produces brilliance

Written by More Matshediso
Batho pele principles and a high regard for patient’s rights is key

The staff at Maphophoma clinic in Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal are an example of how the community and public servant can work together to create excellence.

Maphophoma Clinic received first place in the Ideal Clinic Realisation and Maintenance category during the KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s Annual Service Excellence Awards held recently.

Primary Healthcare Manager for the Nongoma sub-district Zinto Dube said this would not have been possible if the local clinic did not include community members in its programmes through Operation Sukuma Sakhe.

Operation Sukuma Sakhe is a KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government’s initiative that is characterised by continuous interaction between government and the community in order to come together and make service delivery more effective.

The clinic receives between 200 and 250 patients on a daily basis. It operates Monday to Sunday from 7am to 4pm. After hours the clinic only receives emergency cases as its staff members are always on call.

Dube said Maphophoma Clinic prioritises clinic committee structures that involve Induna, community leaders and the youth for all programmes. She said the clinic also uses the adolescent and youth friendly strategy to meet the health care needs of young people.

The clinic has a traditional health practitioners structure through which it encourages traditional healers to refer their patients to the clinic so that they can fight diseases together.

“Since we are in the rural areas a lot of people still strongly believe in getting help from traditional healers. We do not stop them from doing that but we ask them to visit clinics to get professional help and the local traditional healers do refer their patients to us,” she said.

“Team effort is also key in making everything work. The clinic does not have enough staff members but because there is a spirit of team work it is winning,” she added.

She said the staff at the clinic uphold Batho Pele principles and are well orientated when it comes to patients’ rights.

In addition the clinic conducts a survey which allows patients to give feedback on service delivery. “We listen to patients and make changes whenever necessary,” said Dube.

She also said it was important for management of any healthcare facility to always listen to grievances of employees and try to offer support before things get out of hand.

What is an Ideal Clinic?

It is a clinic in South Africa that will open on time and will not close until the last patient has been helped – even if it is beyond operating hours. It will ensure patients are treated with dignity.