Voluntary health services need your time

2016-02-26 17:46

With the assistance of students from Nizamia Islamic School, I was able to help co-ordinate the second medical camp organised by Phelezela, a local Non-governmental organisation. The humanitarian venture saw a mobile clinic professionally run by the Islamic Medical Association (IMA), on Sunday, 21 February 2016.

We drove on the R56 road towards Richmond and passed the Bisley Valley Nature Reserve and on the top of the hill, at a sign reading France Imbali, we took a right turn to reach Phelezela Medical camp housed at the Mpumelelo Primary School.

France Imbali is surrounded by verdant hills, trees, huts and small houses. The nearby hillsides’ rural setting and landscape was just too awesome and they made me rethink my understanding of “rural”.

In rural areas often there is little knowledge of basic health and there are often no facilities available for basic health care needs. The few that are there are under-staffed and under-resourced. Large segments of South Africa’s rural populations do not have access to safe and reliable healthcare. In rural areas, due to such circumstances, the less fortunate living in these remote locations continue to suffer from easily preventable diseases.

In order to play our role as active citizens a group of volunteer doctors, opticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists and ordinary caring people tried to bring medical assistance to this under-resourced population through this mobile medical camp. By bringing healthcare to the rural doorstep, professional and non- professional volunteers tried to ensure that the greatest number of patients are treated. The medical teams on board this camp treated primary health conditions and dispensed free medicines and glasses to the patients. Serious medical conditions were referred to the appropriate public or government hospitals. Patients, based on their medical history and current complaints, were screened for vision or eye problems, blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, HIV/AIDS, and other health related issues. Mpumelelo Primary School was transformed into a makeshift field clinic providing free basic health care for those most in need.

“I came here because I am sick, I cannot afford the taxi fare to the doctor in town. I have no money left after I buy my food to eat,” explained an old lady, as she waited in a line to be seen by the doctor. Another patient, at the end of her long wait to see the optician was very grateful for the free reading glasses she could not otherwise afford.

‘’We are delighted that we have been able to conduct the mobile clinic in France Imbali, as it proved that there is a real need for such services,’’ said Kwaku Asante, a teacher at Nizamia Islamic School who volunteered his time as support staff.

The immense joy, gratitude and deep satisfaction the community displayed towards the members and volunteers of the Phelezela medical camp for rendering their valuable time and services was clearly evident to all present.

John Mthembu personally went around the camp thanking and complementing all for putting together this invaluable service to the people in France Imbali who would not ordinarily have access to such care.

The healthcare services provided to the populace proved to be extremely valuable in a region where there is definitely a lack of quality health care. What was more inspiring was the truly collective and Ubuntu nature of the programme. The Phelezela Medical camp fosters social cohesion and promotes partnerships for different organisations, religious beliefs and race and language groups to work together to improve access to healthcare in rural and remote areas.

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