For the fifth consecutive time a health clinic was conducted in the fall at Merebank in Durban under a marquee tent erected on the same premises as the Community Hall. Four colleagues from Decorative Paints in Umbogintwini were closely involved in the planning of the clinic dates, the preparation and promotion of the events and the organization on the days the healthcare sessions took place. With the support from the Community Program the tent could be hired as well as other necessary materials and equipment.
The healthcare clinics are conducted by the REACH Community project. Jason Naidoo from Decorative Paints was one of the co-founders in 2000, together with wife Pushpum Naidoo, who has over 30 years of experience in a nursing profession. The project was founded in response to concern for the non-availability of community-based primary care health service. Its mission is to expand access to health services for the less advantaged, encourage prevention and promote health through service, education and support regardless of background. REACH accomplishes its mission by hosting free health clinics in the community of Merebank and the surroundings.
Merebank is composed predominantly of working families and seniors who often face socioeconomic barriers to accessing healthcare services. Initially the community was wary about the purpose of the clinics. Having smaller clinics in close settings was a successful approach for overcoming initial hesitation. The health professionals in attendance and volunteers learned the importance of emphasizing the direct impact of education, support and knowledge on an entire community’s health.
After becoming aware of their health condition, the attendees immediately wanted ideas and suggestions for what they could do to address their health problems. Altogether, 14.1% of the clinic participants were referred to the specialists for further diagnosis and management.
These clinics are being viewed by many as essential service for the country’s most vulnerable residents, low-income individuals and families. Interviewed participants described the clinic as a useful service for the community and stated they would revisit the clinic again. One gentleman commented “We are very impressed with the breadth of service offered to those most in need and the initiatives taken to achieve this”.
The ideas and comments shared by attendees will assist REACH in their on-going mission to promote health in the community. The clinics certainly has opened the eyes of participants to the realities of health issues and hopefully pushed them toward better health and a proactive attitude toward prevention and general awareness. Next year more clinics will be organized as most of the community members expressed interest in learning more about the health issues. They will certainly be able to count on the AkzoNobel volunteers who play a major role in the realization of making people aware of health problems in an early stage.