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MTO: Unjani Clinic Partnership

Location: Western Cape, George

Project duration: 2021 - ongoing

External Stakeholders: Unjani Clinics NPC

Project objectives: To provide a quality healthcare facility for the community around MTO’s George Sawmill and to support enterprise development by partnering with Unjani Clinics NPC.

Project deliverables: Provision of health care facilities in a semi-rural area that is beneficial to both company employees and the surrounding community.

 

Front of Unjani Clinic based in George

MTO’s partnership with Unjani Clinics has resulted in the establishment of a health care facility on the premises of the company’s sawmill in George. Unjani Clinics, a network of black women-owned and operated primary health care facilities, is the cornerstone of access to affordable healthcare for MTO staff and the surrounding communities and businesses.


The professional nurse is recruited from the community and operates the facility according to Unjani Clinic standards. The clinic at the George sawmill is a pilot project for MTO: the company intends to roll out this healthcare model in the future in its business locations, in partnership with Unjani Clinics. This will benefit the company’s employees, contractors and surrounding communities, as access to health care facilities is limited in the semi-rural areas in which the forestry industry is located.


The George Unjani Clinic

Charlmain Harker is a highly qualified Professional Nurse with extensive experience in public and private health care. “Five or six years ago I realised that people need quality care, but within a caring environment and that’s when I started exploring the possibility of opening my nursing practice. I read about the Unjani Clinics NPC initiative and I started my application process. It’s been four years of vigorous scrutiny and putting everything in place. But there was a problem.


“We’d been struggling for nearly two years to get land to lease, but what the private sector had to offer was too expensive. So, it was a godsend when MTO came to the table and offered me the land for five years without compensation.” Unjani Health Clinics NPC gets donations from big companies, such as pharmaceuticals Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, to fund a particular clinic. “The Registered Nurse takes ownership of the clinic and pays back over five years,” Harker explains. “The NPC then takes that money to redeploy it to open another clinic in another area.”


Unjani Clinic Nurse with mask and stetoscope


The George Clinic is the 100th Unjani Clinic nationally and the second in the Western Cape.

Harker is still thinking ahead, and for 2022 she is planning to partner with the Department of

Health’s Central Chronic Medicines Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD) programme.

“The clinic is situated ideally to provide chronic care and assist with the chronic burden in the Western Cape,” Harker says. Her second goal for 2022 is a mobile clinic so they can offer

their services closer to communities that need them but can’t afford transport to get to clinics. Unjani offers quality preventative and curative care - from vaccinations, to wound care and taking blood samples for laboratory testing. Unjani Clinic George recently signed an MOU with the government to provide services such as family planning, baby vaccinations, public immunisation and pap smears.


A separate women’s health room is equipped for women-specific health services such as antenatal sonar, family planning visits, pap smears, antenatal first visits and breast examinations. George serves a community of over 140 000 people, of whom around 45% earn at or below the minimum wage or are unemployed. The area has only seven state clinics and one state hospital.


“We serve mostly working people who are able to afford a minimal amount for excellent quality health care. We also assist people above the medium socio-economic level who cannot afford to go to their private GP and pay R400-R500 per visit,” Harker says. “For example, in a family of four, with two children, most of the medical aid benefits are done by the fourth or fifth month of the year.”


Unjani Clinic in George



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