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Improve sexual health services, urges TAC

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says the scarcity of abortion services in public healthcare institutions violates Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

TAC hosted a series of community dialogues in Limpopo’s Vhembe and Mopani districts, and Tzaneen, to educate communities about SRHR and Choice on Termination of Pregnancy services, as well as to highlight the lack of these services at public institutions. 

“Our aim is to create awareness where we start talking about these issues,” explains TAC provincial manager Moses Makhomisani. 

Attitudes

According to Reen Ndlovu, a member of TAC’s provincial youth sector, some of the main challenges raised during the dialogues include a negative attitude from clinic staff, lack of confidentiality, shortages of medication and services, and long queues.

“We have found that patients wait too long for services at clinics. These times need to be reduced,” Ndlovu explains. “Most of our health facilities don’t perform [termination of pregnancies], which is a problem because it opens other illegal channels of pregnancy termination. Other challenges are that the public healthcare services are unfriendly, confidentiality [is not guaranteed], and medication supply is not consistent – which is a serious violation of our rights,” he continues.

Other challenges are that the public healthcare services are unfriendly, confidentiality [is not guaranteed], and medication supply is not consistent – which is a serious violation of our rights,” he continues.

Makhomisani says TAC has been creating awareness in communities about the services residents are meant to get – but aren’t – at their local clinics. He says the advocacy group works with the Limpopo health department to ensure that SRHR services are readily available at all public health institutions across the province, so community members do not have to risk their lives having backstreet abortions or go to private doctors.

Department of Health representative and Tzaneen Bus Stop Clinic operation manager Gertrude Mokwena says the department’s Ideal Clinic programme would be able to address the residents’ grievances. The programme seeks to address deficiencies in the quality of primary healthcare services and to lay a strong foundation for the implementation of the National Health Insurance.

“The Ideal Clinic [has] reduced many challenges, but we still have problems with termination of pregnancies as we haven’t found nurses for that service. It’s a challenge to find [nurses] who specialise [in assisting with termination of pregnancies],” she explains. – Health-e News 

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