Health care NGO Ndlovu Care Group pays its staff exorbitant salaries, charges the Limpopo Department of Health hundreds of thousands of rands in rental fees and fails to account for water bills.
In addition, it provides HIV/Aids and TB services to people who reside outside its catchment area in Sekhukhune, thus defeating its purpose and causing high defaulter rate.
This is according to an internal memo sent to Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in which the Limpopo Department of Health sought permission to transfer thousands of patients from Ndlovu’s facility in Moutse Township outside Dannilton last month.
The non-profit organisation, owned by a certain Dr Templeton, has been offering TB and anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to 3 500 patients in the region on behalf of the Limpopo government since 2002.
In terms of a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into between the two parties during the 2014/2015 financial year, the provincial Department of Health would pay Ndlovu R14 million a year to render HIV/Aids and TB services to the residents of Danilton in Sekhukhune and Hoedspruit in the Maruleng Municipality, respectively.
The department is also responsible for National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), ART, medicines and operational costs.
However, the memo sent to Motsoaledi last month says that:
- Ndlovu pays its doctor a salary of R1.2 million per year, which is more than twice the annual amount of what government pays its doctors;
- The NGO pays its professional nurse entry level salary of up to R420 000 per annum, while their government counterpart take home R262 000;
- Ndlovu pays a Lay Counsellor R9 719 per month while government pays R3 800 for the same skill;
- The department is covering “rental” costs of R500 000 per annum which government facilities do not incur and it’s the mandate of the Department of Public Works, not the Department of Health;
- During its presentation in 2012, Ndlovu indicated that its major strength is its well-established infrastructure. However, the department finds itself having to pay this large amount towards rent;
- Limpopo Department of Health is covering the costs for Ndlovu’s in-house security for a private entity. This is no acceptable;
- The Department is covering the costs towards both medical and municipal waste for a private entity;
- The Department has requested municipal bill to verify the huge amounts of money it is billed water and electricity. To date the water bill has not been provided.
According to the memo, the government is effectively subsidizing a private business with taxpayer’s money.
“LDOH is concerned about these above mentioned costs which cover day to day running of a private individual business since patients consulting at NCG are not exclusively ART patients,” read part of the memo.
“It must be noted that the NCG personnel , unlike their counterparts within the public service, who render 24 hours, 365 days comprehensive health care services while they only render HIV and TB services for normal office hours but earning more than 2.5 times the salary.”
The Limpopo High Court heard the dispute between the two parties, lodged by two patients and an employee of Ndlovu earlier this month.
Harriet Nkonyana, Elizabeth Makua and Skhumbuzo Bolotini sought an interdict ordering Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba to suspend the implementation of her decision to transfer all HIV/AIDS and TB patients currently served by Ndlovu to public clinics in Moutse and Philadelphia Hospital in Dennilton, and restore the status quo before her decision.
They also sought an order directing Ramathuba and Dr Templeton to conclude an agreement for the continued provision and to restore normality of the services by Ndlovu to the affected parties on the same terms and conditions pending a review of the decision by Ramathuba or the provision of a detailed costed plan for the rendering of the same services in line with approved standards.
The court postponed the application indefinitely but made the following orders, amongst others:
- That the department and Ndlovu sign an MOU regulating their relationship and the process of transferring and decanting HIV patients between April and June;
- Both parties prepare a joint implementation plan for the transfer of patients;
- The department source the assistance of the Office of the Health Standards Compliance to assess how appropriate are the facilities to which patience are to be moved.
The Limpopo Department of Health says it has been vindicated by the court judgment.
“The department feels vindicated by the court outcome as it affirms the stance of the department on the issues of the decanting of patience from Ndlovu Care Group into Public Health Facilities. Once again, the department wishes to reiterate that the process will be undertaken in a manner that does not in any way jeopardize the patients,” says spokesperson Neil Shikwambana.
Dr Templeton could not be reached for comment. Ndlovu management refused to speak to African Times, saying they need to consult their lawyers first.
“We will only be able to speak to you when the court processes are over and we have spoken to our lawyers about it,” says Ndlovu Human Resources Director Poppy Mashamaite.