The National Department of Health is in the process of investigating Mpumalanga clinicians who failed to take specimens of patients who presented with cholera symptoms but simply gave them painkillers.
This follows a number of cases that African Times investigated in Bushbuckridge, where water challenges have plagued some townships and villages for months.
Residents of Dwarsloop township started receiving water after they embarked on a protest that was televised on SABC news.
However, the quality of the water has worried residents, especially when the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal made headlines.
Usually, whenever the water returned, it had a brown colour for at least 30 minutes. Recently l, the brown colour lasted for more than 24 hours and sent panic among residents.
Mohau Mzimba is one of the patients who went to the hospital after experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting.
“I thought that maybe I could be pregnant and hoped I wasn’t. When I visited a friend this week on the 7th, she told me that people in Bushbuckridge were suffering from cholera and that should go to the hospital. I went there and they just gave me painkillers.
“I have been trying to act strong but it’s difficult dealing with stomach pains and a sore throat. I think my body is not responding anymore because I have been taking painkillers and it’s been weeks now,” said Mzimba.
A worried mother who drove her daughter to the Dwarsloop Clinic last night said she was worried about how the health department was managing the outbreak.
“My daughter went to the bathroom several times throughout the day. She told me that her schoolmate did not come to school because she was also having diarrhoea. I was just praying that it is not cholera until she started vomiting at night. That is when I rushed her to the clinic and they gave her some medication to prevent the diarrhoea,” said the mother, who asked not to be named.
Another resident, Puseletso Chiloane, also complained about feeling sick after drinking tap water.
Community leader and businessman Mike Ngobeni, who organised the protest that brought back water to the area, told residents that they should hold their leaders accountable.
“I wonder if municipal officials and public representatives see where they are leading us to. First, we have no hospital; we are all going to die. Let’s all register to vote. I challenge capable comrades to avail themselves too. If the ANC loves this country they must set qualifying criteria for candidates,” said Ngobeni.
Mpumalanga Health MEC Sasekani Manzini did not respond to a media inquiry sent to her via WhatsApp. The message had been read. Provincial department spokesperson Dumisani Malamule also did not respond to the same media inquiry.
National department spokesperson Foster Mohale said it was bizarre for the clinic and hospital not to take specimens from the patients.
“We will investigate this. Clinicians across the country have been urged to take specimens of all people who present any cholera symptoms. Testing all people with suspected cholera is important to establish the extent of infections or transmission in order to curb the spread,” said Mohale. “Where clinicians are not able to take specimens, they refer or transfer patients to the nearest hospital.”
Last week, the Mpumalanga Health Department reported that a 73-year-old hypertension patient from Phake near Siyabuswa died at Mmametlhake Hospital outside Hammanskraal after testing positive for the disease.
Information on areas affected by the disease has been scarce from the department, causing concern that people might lose their lives in numbers if the situation is not properly handled.