Reader’s letter: NGV from an optometrist’s point of view


Janine Naudé writes:

I sit with my hands in my hair and my heart in my shoes for the umpteenth time today, because I have to tell one of my patients that I can no longer help them with their eye problem.

I’m just an optometrist and they need an eye specialist, but where can I send the low income, SASSA dependent? We live in the beautiful but cold Eastern Free State where for the past seven months we have not been able to enjoy the services of an eye specialist at a state hospital or clinic in our immediate vicinity.

I have dealt with advanced cataracts, keratoconus and glaucoma just in the last few months but am scrambling to get help in the public sector for these patients. The cataract removal list at Bloemfontein’s National Hospital is very long and if I want to refer someone there, the waiting period for just one consultation is more than a year long.

Then we also hope that on the day of the appointment, the patients will not be turned away, because of the long list of restrictions that currently plague our public health sector. We have fantastic private eye specialists in the area, some of whom have also offered to provide their services to and from the state hospital, but they run into some internal political door at every turn.

The purpose of my letter is not to lay blame at anyone’s door, but to simply ask: Is this the future that lies ahead for every South African citizen if the NGV is totally approved?

In principle, it is also my wish that everyone can enjoy access to the best medical care at an affordable price, but is the dream of the current proposed NHI at the expense of other citizens? Isn’t it every citizen’s right to choose where, when and how they want to enjoy healthcare?

Is it then so outrageous to beg the politicians and government to instead strive to ensure that taxpayers’ money is used correctly, so that everyone can benefit from it? I am not one for being negative and always try to find the positive in every situation.

My concern is that at this stage the public health sector’s infrastructure, resources and staff are already under incredible pressure and I am not sure that the prospect of NHV will be able to address the problems that are now at ground level at all.

That is why I will continue to make it a priority to have my vote counted at every election. I will continue to pray every night for all the low income patients who just want to see again. I will continue to love my country (with all its problems too) and I will continue to strive to fight for those who also deserve high quality eye care.