The Frontier Hospital Eye Clinic has been non-operational since last year and has left the under-privileged who are unable to afford private eye care service suffering and confronted with eye health conditions.
The hospital’s optometrist had retired last year in January and his post was not filled.
The eye clinic was also being used as one of the Covid-19 wards at the hospital.
The problem had seen scores of people from across the district flocking to the Phelophepa health train eye clinic as an alternative resource which was free of charge, but the train had its own challenges and could not accommodate the majority of the people who sought assistance.
The majority of the people were elderly grant recipients from surrounding villages who could not afford private eye care services.
Mkhuseli Jerry, who had been seeking help for his grandmother who is in need of cataract surgery at a health facility, said she had been struggling to receive assistance since last year.
”I took my grandmother to the eye clinic at Frontier last year. She had lost the sight in one of her eyes. She went for an assessment and her name was placed on a waiting list for cataract removal. When I inquired about the eye doctor I was told he had retired in January.
”I asked why she could not be referred to another hospital and I was the told that a doctor would come.”
Jerry said he went again to the hospital to inquire last month and was surprised when five other patients were complaining at being turned away with the same problem, and had been waiting for assistance since last year.
This prompted him to write to premier Oscar Mabuyane last week to inform him of what he believed to be a violation of basic human rights to underprivileged people.
In the letter he showed the Rep, Jerry asked for the premier to intervene in what he termed maladministration at the Frontier Hospital Eye Clinic.
”The clinic has not had a doctor to do cataract surgery since the previous doctor retired. I have tried to contact the matron responsible for the section about the delay in filling the post.”
He said he could not reach the (acting CEO, Hubert Mushid, who the matron had referred him to, but he needed to know how far the recruitment process had progressed and when a new doctor would be appointed.
He wrote that the poorest of the poor who were seeking assistance from public healthcare were being disregarded.
”To conduct cataract removal by a private optometrist costs R21 000 per eye. If the issue was not addressed I will take legal steps so it receives attention. What is difficult when the post is funded?”
He said the lack of service undermined the right of the underprivileged to have access to health care services as a basic human right, guaranteed in Section 27 of the Constitution.
Jerry said the constitution emphasised that no one may be refused emergency medical treatment.
The letter said: ”This undermines the mission of the national health department to improve health through the prevention of illness, disease and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and to consistently improve the health care delivery system by focusing on access, equity, efficiency, quality and sustainability.
”Kindly assist at your earliest possible convenience as our people are losing sight because of lack of competence in management of the hospital.” He said the premier had forwarded the letter to the health department MEC, Nomakhosazana Meth.
However the health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana did not responded to questions.