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Quthing mothers forced to deliver babies in the dark

Limpho Sello

MOTHERS are being forced to deliver their babies in the dark at Dili-Dili Health Centre in Quthing due to lack of electricity.

This after the health facility’s connection was cut off by South Africa’s Eskom almost a month ago due to non-payment by the Lesotho government.

Expecting mothers in the area told the Sunday Express that they are always praying that they get into labour during the day fearing that they would be forced to give birth using flashlights.

As if that is not enough, the health centre does not have running water as the centre’s borehole has dried up.

Dili-Dili Health Centre is a four-hour drive from the Quthing central business district. It serves 33 villages in the district. Some of its clients come from the nearby Bebeza area in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The Bebeza villagers take advantage of the porous border to access services at the centre.

The health centre and the surrounding villages get their power from Eskom.

Dili-Dili Health Centre’s second nurse in charge, Setsoto Makuebu said for over three weeks now, they have been forced to use makeshift lighting such as cellphone flashlights and rechargeable battery torches which they purchase with their personal money.

“We recently got another rechargeable makeshift light which was bought by one of our cleaners after they found us delivering a baby using a cellphone flashlight,” Ms Makuebu said.

Despite the “painful” circumstances, they must continue working to serve the community.

“The patients must be served. It is the best we can do under such working conditions.

“The lack of power also worsens the situation during emergencies. Sometimes when we must call Quthing District Hospital, our phones would have switched off. We are then forced to seek the help of villagers to transport the patients if they need to be transferred.”

Although the facility has a generator in place, it does not have fuel.

Ms Makuebu said they have now been forced to stop providing some services like immunisations because the medication requires refrigeration.

The health centre serves about 20 000 mothers who access family planning and antenatal care services every quarter.

The water situation has also become dire. The only borehole sunk by development partners has dried up.

“The borehole rarely produces water. When it does, it is very little. The water crisis increased with the Covid-19 outbreak as people must increasingly wash their hands in running water.”

The health ministry’s acting director general of health services, Dr ‘Malitaba Litaba, said she was unaware of the situation at Quthing District Hospital.

Meanwhile the Butha-Buthe Government Hospital has also stopped admitting patients due to lack of running water and meals. The hospital made the announcement on Wednesday.

The management however, said it would accept patients who bring their own food and water.

Dr Litaba said the hospital has always been having water problems.

She said the principal secretary in the ministry, Khothatso Tšooana, had already engaged the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) to assist the hospital to ensure that services return to normal.


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