Taking health services to the community

Kurt Grant from Hanover Park accessed the free healthcare outreach arranged by the Western Cape Department of Health. He is assisted by Roselin September.

Hanover Park residents welcomed the Western Cape Health Department’s initiative to bring primary healthcare services to them.

Many could not access these services because public health facilities have been prioritising Covid-19 cases, and offering limited primary healthcare.

On Thursday August 27, the department hosted an outreach at the Apostolic Faith Mission church in Hanover Park, where residents could have blood pressure, blood sugar levels and HIV tests, as well as receiving flu vaccinations. Children could also be immunised and education around oral health was also on offer.

Resident Kurt Grant, received a flu vaccination and did an HIV test. He encouraged other men to do the same, as he believes many serious illnesses can be avoided or better managed if people are aware of their health status.

“The way things are now, it is important to check on your health. The health department made it easier for us to do that now. One usually only see women checking up on their health, but I want to encourage more men to do it as well. I am glad I made use of this opportunity,” Mr Grant said.

Geraldine Pretorious shared his sentiments, saying “you must look after yourself”.

“I am happy that the Western Cape Department of Health is there for us, especially during this time of Covid-19. It is a good thing that they can assist us near our homes, especially so for our elderly. A lot of us live far from the clinic or day hospital and need to walk far,” she said.

Amelia Pedro said she too, appreciates this service.

“I think it is wonderful, especially for those who could not access primary healthcare because of Covid-19. There are so many children who missed out on immunisation. I also like the idea that they move around in the area – the different venues means more people can access it. The day hospital only opened this week for chronic patients, so having outreach events like this, is a big help,” Ms Pedro said.

Spokesperson for the Western Cape Health Department’s Klipfontein sub-structure, Monique Johnstone, confirmed that there were limited services.

“Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, primary health care facilities in the Western Cape had to prepare for Covid-19 essential healthcare services, while offering a limited non-Covid-19 service to communities.

“This approach initially meant fewer people accessed services because of necessary safety measures, such as the limited number of people inside a health facility.

“The Western Cape Government Health has commenced with an innovative approach of re-introducing non-Covid-19 primary healthcare services, including weekly Wellness Community Outreaches focusing on immunisation catchup and other non-Covid-19 healthcare services in various vulnerable areas in the Klipfontein and Mitchells Plain areas,” Ms Johnstone said.

She added that child immunisation was important to protect them from contracting life-threatening viruses and diseases in the future, and to help their bodies fight childhood illnesses. During this time, there had been a 22% reduction in immunisations.

“All children between six months and five years old should receive vitamin A and deworming medicines every six months. This helps to keep them healthy. When accessing the free community outreaches, residents must ensure that they bring their child’s Road to Health booklet along and to wear your mask, sanitise their hands and practice social distancing.

“These outreaches are planned for the next six months and will be revaluated thereafter.

“We encourage the community to access these free services when conducted in their area,” Ms Johnstone said.