On Monday the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) launched a mobile clinic at the Grandmother Against Poverty and Aids (GAPA) Centre, in Khayelitsha to provide essential preventative health screenings to vulnerable members of the community, starting with older persons.
The mobile clinic will move around the area to serve as many elderly patients as possible in the first year of operation and may begin to serve a wider demographic group from its second year of operation.
HSFSA chief executive officer Professor Pamela Naidoo explained what is going to happen at the clinic. “This is like the birth of a new baby. The clinic talks to the vision of health promotion. We will do a proper health risk assessment here,” she said.
“The mobile clinic we launched today is the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa’s first pilot mobile community clinic in the Western Cape and South Africa.
“Our trained nurses are ready to conduct health risk assessments on members of the communities where they work, and provide them with helpful information and advice on how to manage their health.
“Those individuals at risk will be referred for health care and treatment where needed to nearby public and private medical facilities,” said Professor Naidoo.
Through the pilot project, she said, community members would have the opportunity to test their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol and BMI.
She said the country’s most under-served communities often have the highest levels of undetected and preventable non-communicable diseases like heart disease, strokes, increased cholesterol levels, diabetes and obesity. She however said it was estimated that 70 percent of heart diseases and strokes could be prevented, yet 225 South Africans are killed by heart diseases every day and nearly 70 die of strokes.
“In South Africa, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, strokes and other circulatory conditions, have a high burden of disease, therefore our mobile clinic will assist in educating, informing, diagnosing and referring patients, and in doing so, lessening the strain on our overburdened healthcare system,” she said.
She explained that patients will be specifically educated and informed on the “importance of knowing their numbers” by testing their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol and body mass index.
“We know these conditions are also some of the most serious comorbidities for Covid-19, therefore our work is particularly essential at this time. We expect the pandemic to be with us for quite a while and therefore it is vital that we equip vulnerable community members to take better care of themselves in the face of the pandemic,” said Professor Naidoo.
Sharon Leo from the Western Cape Department of Health and chief executive officer at Helderberg Hospital said the government was excited with the launch.
“We are extremely grateful for the partnership. This clinic will have a major impact in our people’s lives. We want to stop the devastating outcomes,” she said.
Thandi Ngushelo from Gapa was among those getting tested.
“I am also excited because we were told there is a dietician that will teach us on nutrition. This alone is an achievement to us. I am happy and I speak on behalf of others too,” she said.
Among the dignitaries at the launch were University of Cape Town Chair of Medicine, Professor Ntobeko Ntusi, HSFA board member John Stephenson, HSFA project member Marcelle Musson and Gapa members.