How to enforce your rights

If you believe that local government is not doing enough to promote a healthy environment you should approach your councillor and the environmental health officer in your municipality to find out what they are doing to fix the problem. As an individual, or as a community group, you have a right to information regarding your municipality’s environmental health plans. Environmental health services should be included in the IDP and adequately funded in the municipal budget.

If you are unhappy with the services you are receiving from your municipal clinic, you can approach the clinic manager, the municipality or your councillor to demand better service. If that doesn’t work, contact your provincial department of health to find out whether your clinic is providing the services they are supposed to. If they are not meeting provincial standards, you have a right to demand that they do.

The Department of Health is creating an office of Health Standards Compliance in 2011/2012. Once this is established you should also report poor service there. Find out whether your clinic or community health centre has a committee, when they meet and how you can become involved. Check provincial legislation to find out how your health centre’s committee is established and their function. These committees should consist of members of local government, health management and, most importantly, members of the community. If your clinic does not have a committee, put pressure on the district health manager or provincial government to form a committee and get them working.

In order to monitor your right to health, organise or join community based organisations (such as the TAC) that monitors the delivery of health care. Community organisations can play an important role in monitoring services at clinics and health centres by comparing what the clinics are doing against the plans outlined in district health plans and budgets.

If you are concerned about the delivery of services for HIV and AIDS in your district or municipality, you could also participate in your district or local AIDS council. These councils are important because they monitor the implementation of provincial HIV and AIDS plans and can provide input on how best to manage the pandemic in their areas. If these councils are not functioning in your area, approach your councillor and district health manager to find out what you can do to get them working, and contact the TAC.