Thania Gopal writes:
In many ways my visit to the rural Eastern Cape as part of the Atlantic Tekano Fellowship was a painful one. As a student of public health and advocate for health equity, it was jarring to come face-to-face with a health facility in such a deep state of neglect. As academics, we spout out terms such as people-centred health systems and responsiveness – which really just underscores the importance of treating people with respect and dignity. At Canzibe Hospital - we were met with many obstacles – including accessibility, infrastructure, resources and governance etc – which hampers the attainment of even these most basic human rights.
The historical context of the area - the creation of the former homelands or Bantustans and the introduction of the pervasive migrant labour system – has left an indelible stain on this community – who are still feeling the ripple effects almost 25 years after apartheid. And unfortunately, the burden is unequally endured by the women of these villages who bear the brunt of this system.
One of the things that struck me the most was the level of quiet acceptance in the community and this made me reflect on – who gets heard and how people are eventually silenced through the inaction of those who should be held accountable. At the same time, I was struck by the quiet defiance of this community – who in the absence of being heard, had managed to pool together their own resources (mainly social grants) and build their own clinic. Sadly, this too stands empty as the community waits patiently for government to meet them halfway. Read her published article on the Daily Maverick website.