Go Metro – Buffalo City gets three new clinics on wheels

COLLABORATION: Provincial MEC for Health, Nomakhosazana Meth and technical director for SA Van Conversions, Mike McLoughlin at the launch of the mobile clincs.

To alleviate gaps in accessibility to primary healthcare, three state-of-the-art Department of Health mobile clinics, will be making their rounds in communities across Buffalo City soon, focusing on hotspots such as Reeston, Ducatts, and Ncera.

The mobile clinics are part of a larger fleet of 137 vehicles valued at R1m per vehicle, that will be dispatched to vulnerable communities across the province.

According to the health MEC, Nomakhosazana Meth, this was done to address disparities in health care regardless of a patient’s location.

The mobile clinics are designed to provide preventive treatment and services including screening services for chronic illnesses, TB & HIV, hypertension, diabetes, men’s and women’s health, immunisation, treatment of minor ailments and dispensing of chronic medication.

The first 54 vehicles were unveiled at Mdantsane’s Cecelia Makiwane Hospital on May 18 and are converted by SA Van Conversions. The remaining vehicles, four-wheel drive bakkies, will be released later this year.

The Eastern Cape mobile clinics have several innovative features.

INNOVATIVE DESIGN: The exterior and interior of the mobile clinics. The disability access ramp is unique to Eastern Cape mobile clinics. Pictures: TAMMY FRAY

Technical director for SA Van Conversions, Mike McLoughlin, said the project took nine months and the vans are designed to overcome limitations specific to the Eastern Cape.

These include unstable water and electricity access, staff and equipment shortages and far-flung rural terrains.

EC DoH spokesperson, Yonela Dekeda said: “We are proud that these mobile vehicles have been customised for the Eastern Cape and manufactured in the Eastern Cape.”

Unlike other mobile clinics, the Eastern Cape vehicles are fitted with a disabled access ramp which is a combination of a staircase and a ramp and can be used irrespective of ability.

In addition, the vans also include both adult and infant scales and a combined single examination compartment and an administrative desk.

The vans have hands-free touch water systems to mitigate direct hand to hand contact and a wastewater collection system to prevent waste from being dispensed in the communities.

To ensure sustainability, the vans have an inverter system with auxiliary batteries that provide power for six hours. It has a shore plug that can be plugged into Eskom power when this becomes available.

McLoughlin said: “When you see these vehicles, it’s comforting to know that the Eastern Cape is really working towards service delivery.

“At SA Van Conversions, it is a privilege to be a part of this and to know we are doing is making a difference. “

The remaining vehicles will be allocated to rural areas with rougher terrain landscapes, including Sarah Baartman district who was given 10 mobile clinics because it has many rural farms.

Mobile clinics are used in low- and middle-income countries and though innovative, accessible, and cost-effective, mobile clinics are not without their challenges.

Researchers found that in the Western Cape, the programme was intermittently interrupted by service delivery strikes, riots and inclement weather.

Dekeda said these mobile clinics can be driven in all weather conditions.

She said the department is producing about 50 more mobile clinic bakkies with panel vans which are capable of being driven in remote areas of the province and in all kinds of weather conditions.

One local nurse said that unlike in the past, the new mobile clinics should be available in the communities from Monday to Friday and not only one day a week. This nurse said that communities should be alerted ahead of time regarding the services the mobile clinic will provide and on which days the clinic will visit.

Local nurses hope the new clinics will in time render all primary health care services including sexual reproductive health and antenatal care.

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