Mitchell’s Plain basic health services were administered to about 200 residents of Kapteinsklip Informal Settlement, on their doorstep.
They were screened for hypertension, diabetes, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB), received flu and Covid-19 vaccinations and there was also a mobile wellness bus with a dentist on site to do tooth extractions.
Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC), formerly known as the day hospital, was called out to the community by members of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Beacon Valley, to bring basic health services to the settlement on Friday May 27.
Centre social worker Rene Daniels said they assessed 195 patients, many of whom had undiagnosed hypertension and diabetes and were not practising some form of family planning. They also found that a number of children had not been immunised, or their shots were not up to date.
She said that the wellness hub was tailored to community health care services, which were in line with the needs of the specific community.
Ms Daniels said the roll-out of services started about two months ago to promote access to health services, which many people avoided because of transport costs, long queues and their folders going missing.
Explaining what was required for them to visit a community, she added: “All we need is a request and an inflow of patients.”
She said that the centre was overburdened and that another way they could have the community access services would be to take it to them.
“High risk cases are identified, treated and or dealt with and we can also refer patients for further services,” she said.
Friday’s visit was brought about by Reverend Errol van der Ross, who was alerted to the settlement’s plight by one of his parishioners, Rowayda Dietrich, who had met with a family, whose mother died.
They have since connected the daughter, 14, and the son, 9, with their uncle.
“It is time we stand up. Rise up from wherever we are and see how we can make a better society,” he said.
In September 2020 the church gave the centre a trophy and certificate thanking them for their hard work during the national Covid-19 lockdown (“Gesture of appreciation”, Plainsman October 7, 2020).
Last week the centre gave Reverend Van der Ross a certificate of appreciation for the church’s “outstanding effort in protecting the people of South Africa through the Covid-19 vaccination programme”.
Reverend Van der Ross said as hungry as people were for food, they also needed health care, clothes and food, which his team shared during the outreach programme.
He said that ministering was not confined to the church halls but included tending to the needs of its people and encouraged all faith-based groups and institutions to partner with the department of health and give the communities hope.
“We can make a difference in people’s lives. We can give them a sense of hope. If we stand together we can be the voice for the voiceless,” he said.
Informal settlement leader Igsak Abrahams, who had a tooth extracted, said they were very grateful for the health services and that they often battled to get residents to help themselves.
He said that they were hard at work trying to prepare residents for the next step of moving into a formal house.
His wife Ilhaam said: “We can’t spoon feed them but with the support we can usher them to take responsibility.”
They said there were 300 people living in the informal settlement and that 60% of them feared moving into a house because of the costs that came with it.