About 80 disabled residents from the Vhembe region in Limpopo have joined together to protest against poor treatment they are receiving from their local hospital.
Shortage of specialised shoes
“Even though we are disabled we deserve to be treated equally – the same way in which able-bodied people are treated. So we are now protesting for service delivery for disabled people. We cannot suffer just because we are disabled,” said Ndishavhelafhi Mphaphuli, the spokesperson for the disabled people in the Vhembe region.
He was speaking during the recent protest by the disabled residents in Vhembe which took place at the district offices of the Department of Health in Thohoyandou.
Read: Rural disabled struggle with healthcare
The protest action was to complain about the shortage of specialised shoes, which were not in stock at some of the hospitals in the region, a shortage of jobs for disabled people, and the removal of disabled people from the government hospital tuck-shops, which were put out for new operators on tender. More than 80 disabled residents participated in the protest.
“I have been going to the Siloam Hospital for months now to get a new pair of my special shoes. But they keep on telling me that they have not yet received a particular gas which they use to produce that type of shoes. It is so painful, as I cannot walk without those shoes,” said Shonisani Makhado, a disabled resident.
Tenders for tuck-shops
”I hope that after this protest they will make sure that we get our shoes. Our rights and needs must be respected, as we did not choose to be disabled,” he said. The angry residents want the Department of Health to give running of the hospitals’ tuck-shops to disabled people.
The tuck shops were previously operated by disabled people, but the department recently withdrew from the arrangement and issued tenders for the running of the tuck-shops.
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“We have been left jobless because they took our tuck-shops away from us. Now they cannot even provide us with service delivery in the form of special shoes and wheelchairs. These people seem not to care about us and our rights,” said Ndishavhelafhi.
Waiting for delivery
Spokesperson for the Department of Health in the province, Derrick Kganyago, said the special shoes that disabled residents have been battling to get would be received by local hospitals within the next few days.
“As the department we are committed to providing service delivery for all our people. The only hospital which had challenges when it comes to special shoes is the Siloam Hospital, but I can assure you that this challenge has been addressed and we are only waiting for a delivery which will arrive anytime from now,” said Kganyago.
He added: “I urge all our people who get their shoes at the Siloam Hospital to go and check for them in the coming few days.”
Kganyago said that while the operating of hospital tuck-shops had been put out to tender and already advertised, disabled people were encouraged to apply for these positions in order to be considered. Health-e News
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