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Dangerous waste

The stench coming from the room is nauseating. Its not the typical smell of rotting cabbage leaves or chicken intestines.

It’s human waste and decaying body parts.

Tonota clinic is facing a serious health hazard. For seven months the incinerator has not been working and piles of red waste disposal bags are bursting from the room housing the defunct engine.“Do you know what’s in these bags?” asked a clinic employee who is so fearful for his health that he has risked being identified and sacked in order to expose the appalling conditions at the clinic.

“It’s human placentas and dirty pampers from patients suffering from chronic diseases. It’s disgusting,” he says, furrowing his eyebrows to emphasis the point.

“There are worms as big as my index finger and the stench is unbearable, but no action is being taken,” he adds.

The employee (name withheld) confirms the incinerator has not been operational for the past seven months.

He maintains that authorities both at District Health Management Team (DHMT) and Ministry level were informed, but no action has yet been taken.

According to the concerned employee, the trouble started when responsibility for the clinic was transferred from the Ministry of Local Government and placed under the Ministry of Health.
The malfunctioning incinerator has also affected clinics in villages surrounding Tonota who use the facility. “I was in Mmandunyane recently. The situation is also bad there since they have nowhere to dispose their clinical waste,” said the source.

Clinics in Mandunyane, Semotswane and Shashe rely on Tonota for disposal of their waste.

Adding to the woes of employees it is said that they last received uniform and protective clothing in 2011.

“There is also acute shortage of accommodation. Staff flats that were gutted by fire in 2011 are yet to be fixed,” the worker revealed.

He claimed that there are nurses who were transferred to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital, who were paid their transfer and hotel allowances but are still occupying staff houses in Tonota.

“All this is happening because there is lack of leadership. I believe only the President can help employees, but when he was in the area last weekend for a rally he neglected to come here.”

The source took The Voice on a tour of the clinic and showed us the dilapidated staff flats, damaged emergency fire pumps and tattered sheets in the maternity ward.

“What kind of a health facility, home to bed ridden patients, operates without an emergency fire pump?”
Efforts to get a comment from the clinic Matron Thatayaone Moitebatsi did not bear fruit as she referred all questions to a certain Dr Ayele at DHMT.

When contacted for comment Dr Ayele asked for a face-to-face interview but later called to cancel the appointment.

“We are aware off the situation in Tonota, but you know I don’t have the authority to talk to the media.

Please send a questionnaire and I will forward it to the relevant people,” was all Dr Ayele was prepared to say.

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