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HIV-positive patients at Emmanuel Haven Wellness Centre remain in limbo

By Afikile Lugunya - May 10, 2017
HIV-positive patients at Emmanuel Haven Wellness Centre remain in limbo

The fate of HIV-positive patients, who depend on the Emmanuel Haven Wellness Centre, which is based in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, for care and Anti-Retroviral treatments, remains unknown as they grow more and more concerned that the clinic will be shut down.

Established in 2000, the centre’s vision was to create an HIV-free Motherwell - the largest township in Port Elizabeth. However, over the years, it has grown to cater for HIV positive patients, who come from other various townships around Port Elizabeth.

Masumpa Ramolahlei, who has been volunteering at the Haven for several years now told RNEWS that he has been doing everything in his power to ensure that the clinic doesn’t shut down.

He is the only volunteer left at the clinic and is forced to juggle his time as an educator, caregiver, counsellor, receptionist and the person, who hands out the ARV medication to the clinic’s patients.

“I phoned the Presidential Hotline again, but they told me the same thing they said last time that they are still investigating,” he said.

“I asked one of the patients to contact the Department of Health and a woman, by the name of Nadiena, offered to investigate this issue we are facing.

“Nadiena reported back to us after a meeting she had with the Department of Health District Manager, who said that the shutdown will continue as planned.”

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has reportedly issued transfer letters to patients at the clinic - while some have signed them, some have refused.

To complicate matters, Ramolahlei says he has been offered a fulltime job at Motherwell’s NU8 Clinic – a great opportunity to finally earn a monthly income for his family after volunteering for many years at the centre.

Ramolahlei previously told RNEWS that he knew that the shut down would eventually come since 2015, when the Department informed him that the clinic would be shut down “because it is not registered”.

“In 2015, they said that the clinic will be closed, but during the process of the elections, we were promised that it will not be closed. Now that we voted for them, they no longer care about what will happen to us,” he described.

Masumpa said that he has been getting complaints from patients who agreed to be transferred to other local clinics.

“In one case, I received a complaint from one of our clients, saying that he went to the Motherwell Health Centre and he was turned away because the clinic was full,” Masumpa said.

“If they keep doing this, then what are the patients supposed to do, stay at home and die because that is what is going to happen if they shut down the clinic and more patients are chased away because the clinics are full.”

Masumpa also said that Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Cllr Mongameli Bobani, accompanied by Eastern Cape Department of Health officials, visited the Haven recently.

“I went there myself after the complaints I have been getting, the MEC will go there to make annunciation on what is really going on and so that I can take further actions,” the Deputy Mayor told RNEWS.

“I’m still investigating about the conditions and it is the MEC that will decide what to do regarding that clinic.

“I have been working together with the MEC of Health regarding of what they have been complaining about and had to see for myself the conditions at the Emmanuel Haven Wellness Centre.”

Asked whether the Haven will close or not, Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Sizwe Kuphelo, told RNEWS that he cannot as yet until he has received feedback from Port Elizabeth.

“Environmental health is inspected at the Municipality level so I can’t comment on that until I have received the feedback,” he said.

“Environmental health processes are based at the municipal offices not on the Health department offices so I cannot say the clinic is going to close or not.”