ATTEMPTS to provide quality healthcare for isolated areas received a major boost when the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service and the Al-Imdaad Foundation joined forces last week.The launch of the initiative is an extension of the Al-Imdaad Foundation’s Winter Warmth campaign and will see a series of distributions in isolated rural areas, to be carried out by Air Mercy personnel. “Air Mercy is able to provide access to aero-medical and associated humanitarian services to areas that may otherwise have fallen off the radar, thereby improving the quality of life for isolated communities.“It allows us to extend our humanitarian hand into areas that are otherwise inaccessible,” said project co-ordinator Qari Ziyad Patel.In the first phase of distributions last week, communities in the uMkhanyakude District Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal, close to the Swaziland border, were targeted. The district was identified as one of the most deprived districts in South Africa based on indicators including unemployment, access to piped water and electricity and low education level.“Al-Imdaad Foundation blankets and winter wear were handed out to patients at the Mosvold district hospital where a distribution point was also set up for families from surrounding areas. Walking aids were also handed over to elderly members of the local community,” said Patel.The 246- bed Mosvold District Hospital serves a population of around 110 000 people.Next month will see a number of other flights scheduled on a weekly basis to continue to increase the access of the humanitarian distributions and spread comfort among rural South Africans. “We hope that this partnership develops to include other joint projects that help to improve the quality of life of rural South Africans wherever they may be,” said Patel. THE Al-Imdaad Foundation is an 11-year-old non-profit humanitarian aid relief organisation (NGO) registered in South Africa, dedicated to providing humanitarian services in crisis and non-crisis situations to most needy orphans, widows and destitute, irrespective of race, religion, culture, creed and geographical boundary. The foundation operates in 65 countries across the globe. The foundation is based in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal. It has regional offices in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.