Too little for too many – the experience of public health services in Durban

The South African Department of Health has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent years. Under the leadership of the likes of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Dr Manto Tshabalala Msimang and now Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the public health sector serves a staggering 84% of the country’s population. And many who use public health facilities complain that their basic needs are not catered for. RUMANA AKOOB reports.

speratta bSperatta Buthelei, 62, pensioner, Ntuzuma.

We wait a long time. We have to sleep here over night so we can see the doctor early, there is no care. People die on the chairs waiting.They are short of doctors and nurses. The hospital is very bad we are suffering. There is no straight transport. It’s far to come from Ntuzuma but the hospital there doesn’t have the facilities.

My son was beaten by thieves, the ambulance came late to fetch my son so he died in hospital. They said they had only a few ambulances that day.


xolewa nXolewa Ntunja, 43, unemployed , Pheonix

The service at the Gandhi Hospital is good but other hospitals are bad. There was another hospital I went to in Clairwood which was very poor. My baby and I went there after I gave birth. The nurses don’t help at night when there’s a problem.

If they are committed the government could help. I think they need supervision.

Service across the board is not good, you never feel comfortable. When you ask for something, you’re not given clear answers by anyone.





hugashnee oHagashnee Owen, 25, house wife, Pheonix

My son was born premature in this hospital. He passed away a few days after he was born. They said they couldn’t save him and that if I had medical aid I could have taken him to a private hospital.I feel I never had closure about his death because I was never given proper answers. While I was in hospital I was made to sign many forms while I was highly medicated.

They need more people who take their job seriously. We as citizens come in and need to feel we are in good health. I didn’t vote and I don’t have a reason to vote. When a party shows me that they are capable of taking action I will be inspired to also do something too, I see what happens in this hospital and live among people who come here. We need better care.


Mrs NaidooMrs Naidoo, 45, house wife

I’m here to fetch my mother’s medication. The doctors are excellent, they are very informative here. In other public clinics there is arrogance from nurses and doctors maybe because of the overload of work as well.

Conditions are deplorable and the facilities need to be upgraded more so because these are medical facilities.

I’m sure political parties can help because they say they are up there and have power, they need to show us how much of power they have.


Brenda GBrenda Gumede, 46, Transnet employee, Chesterville

The hospitals are good. The medication is sufficient but sometimes off inferior quality. I’ve been helped a lot in hospitals. I think the doctor and nurses are doing very well. I’m very grateful to the ANC for all their work because it’s different to what was done before. Especially the ARV’s and HIV and AIDS care.




feroz hFeroz Hussain, 40, manager, Overport

There are improvements day by day. The nurses are better and wards are being upgraded. We are being backed by the community to drive better service.

Waiting times are always an issue and there are always a delay with the pharmacy and to be treated. If that can change everything can be fine.

Because it’s voting season now everyone rushes in and says what they would do to improve hospitals and education but they would see us out in the end.