Makhubo Reversing Extended Hours Clinics During a Global Pandemic

ActionSA is shocked by revelations that the extended hours of operation of City of Johannesburg Clinics introduced during my time as Mayor are being rolled back. 

This is despite the fact that City clinics, operating into the night and over weekends, would be an invaluable resource in the fight against Covid-19.

In 2016 the multi-party coalition I led initiated a pilot project for extending the operating hours of clinics. This pilot project we ran to assess the benefits of the idea, was funded with the money that was allocated for international travel in the office of the outgoing Mayor, Parks Tau. The results were staggering, revealing how many patients needed critical life-saving treatment or could avoid missing out on an income by visiting the clinic in the evenings or on weekends. 

The extended hours of operation saw 26 clinics operating late into the nights on weekdays and over Saturdays and Sundays. Reports from the City’s Health Department revealed that over 300 000 patients were treated after hours and 522 life-saving emergency situations received treatment. 

Today I stand at the Princess Clinic near Roodepoort which was ground zero for this project. It was a family from this community who shared their suffering of a sick child who needed regular medical treatment. They lived far from a hospital and their City clinic closed at 5pm, leaving them no options nearby to seek life-saving treatment. 

The initiative we introduced is a clear example of how healthcare can be improved in our country for millions of South Africans who depend on these clinics. During the time of the global Covid-19 pandemic, these clinics should have been the City’s frontline. They should have been able to augment the capacity of Provincial Hospitals and save lives because serious Covid-19 implications aren’t limited to ordinary office hours. 

That is why Where we govern, ActionSA governments will take the following measures to extend access to primary healthcare in metros we govern:

  • Extend clinic operating hours to make it easier for residents to access public healthcare.
  • Roll out mobile clinics to reach more South Africans that don’t have access to public healthcare.

The City of Johannesburg has been silent on measures it has taken throughout this pandemic. Other than its own apparent procurement controversies, it is difficult to pinpoint a valuable contribution it has made to saving the lives of its residents. This is bad enough as it is. However, to begin reversing the extended hours of operation for City Clinics when so many have needed life-saving treatment, it is evil. 

ActionSA remains resolute that no amount of public outcry will get ANC governments, like in Johannesburg, to start delivery and stop corruption. This is why ActionSA is committed to removing these governments later this year and ensuring that all South Africans have access to quality healthcare services.