Health services in large parts of the Northern Cape have virtually collapsed with communities mostly being served by overstretched nurses struggling to cope with the disease and injury burden. The challenges are overwhelming. Qualified doctors, specialists and professional nurses are as scarce as water in this arid province. Health facilities are poorly serviced with basic services such as emergency medical services, cleaning and infection control, drug and basic medical supply stocks, mortuaries, standard operating hours, trauma and mental health services virtually non-existent in most towns. Last November Spotlight travelled a circular route through the province and clocked up about 2 000 kilometres of dirt and tar road. We passed through towns and small outposts, some just blips on the radar long past their heyday. Signposts hinting at suffering whizz by – Sweetfontein (Perspiration Fountain), Omdraaisvlei (Turnback Vlei), Uitlvlug (Flee Away) and so on. We slowed and at times paused in Middelpos, Sutherland, Fraserburg, Loxton, Victoria West, Britstown, De Aar, Prieska, Groblershoop, Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas, Kenhardt, Brandvlei, Calvinia and Nieuwoudtville..
There are many stories to tell and many issues to highlight which we try to do in our main story. However, there are many images to share. Thom Pierce joined the team and captured a collection of images that try to tell a visual story of this arid, beautiful, suffering province.