Nanana Hlatshwayo, the Chief Director for Health at the Gert Sibande District Municipality acknowledges that the municipality has had a long standing relationship with Sasol. But 2011 was a defining year for the partnership, as it triggered an extensive investment programme of the municipality’s healthcare infrastructure.
Sasol invested R2 million to revamp the Bethal clinic from being housed in a congested municipal building to a fully equipped 24 hour healthcare facility with dental and maternity facilities. A mobile clinic was donated in addition for use in underserviced areas of the district. In eMbalenhle, the Extension 14 clinic has also been completely upgraded through a R9,2 million overhaul.
Bafana Msibi chairperson of the Clinic Committee and a community development worker, says the clinic is integral to the community. Msibi says the community is growing substantially, as people from afar relocated to the region seeking work and economic opportunities. The new clinic has become an indispensable asset in providing increased access to much-needed healthcare services.
Since then, the Extension 14 Clinic has been visited by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in November 2014, the then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and then Premier of Mupumalanga David Mabuza.
Sasol has helped convert the Bethal facilities and the eMbalenhle Extension 14 Clinic to what Hlatshwayo calls a “platinum” standard. The clinic is accessible to all patients with reasonable waiting times, quality service and readily available medicine and treatment. As a result, Hlatswhayo has experienced vast improvement in patient satisfaction.
Eunice Ngobeni, the Operations Manager of the clinic says the clinic used to operate from an RDP House that was donated by Sasol in the early 90s. Although this facility was upgraded over time, it could not cope with the growing population and burden of disease. Patients were exposed to the elements while waiting for service, privacy comprised and risk of infection was high.
While planning for the new clinic commenced in 2014, developers broke ground in 2016 and it took 18 months to have the facility ready for handover to the Health Department.
Ngobeni notes that the clinic offers a full range of services, including family planning, treatment of minor ailments, ante natal and post natal care, as well as chronic disease. Patients who cannot be treated are referred to the Evander Hospital.