Primary healthcare access still a challenge in informal settlements

Posted on October 17, 2019

Accessing healthcare is often a struggle for most residents of informal settlements for various reasons, including distance and lack of services.

UP’s Community-Oriented Primary Care programme, in collaboration with Rotary, the Faculty of Health Sciences and other stakeholders, recently participated in a three-day health drive at Malusi informal settlement, Pretoria West, where they helped provide basic healthcare to residents.

The initiative, which was held at Malusi Youth Development Organisation Centre, was based on data collected by community health workers that indicated a need for basic healthcare services in the community.

According to Carolyn Khoury, Assistant Governor, Rotary E-Club of Southern Africa, “Most people, particularly from rural areas and informal settlements, do not get equal access to healthcare and most of them are very far from health facilities such as clinics and drug rehabilitation centres, hence our presence for these three days.”

Several other units of UP’s faculty of Health and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) participated in the drive. These included Siyayinqoba Beat It, which facilitated male circumcisions; Zanempilo Home-Based Care, which provided HIV/AIDS testing and counselling and blood pressure screenings; and UP’s Community-Oriented Substance Use Programme (COSUP).

“I am glad to have come here today for different health screenings, this is not an opportunity that we get every day as community members of Malusi,” said Maria Ngobeni. 

COSUP aims to provide meaningful and effective community-based support for people who are affected by harmful substance use. “We are a research and healthcare programme focused on people who use drugs and alcohol. We also deal with psychosocial issues. On the medical side, we assist clients with medical care needs, be it TB, HIV/AIDS and other health-related issues; those are the services we are rendering here today,” said Social Worker/Clinical Assistant Lizna Lucas.

“We also try by all means to break the stigma around drug use and we work hand in hand with different medical personnel for those who need medical attention,” she added.

Puseletso Shoko of Zanempilo Home-Based Care said she was happy about the response the organisation had received from the residents of Malusi. She said it showed that community members were taking their health seriously. And since the service rendered was free of charge and in the community, they did not have to travel a long distance or spend money to get the help they need, she said.

Malusi Youth Development Organisation Founder and Executive Director Hlakudi Malatji advised community members to take care of their health. He appealed to government, NGOs and local businesses to lend a hand as the organisation has limited resources and no electricity and running water.   

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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