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Jun 10
Taking integrated hospital services into the community

By: Lunga Memela (Communications Engagement Lead)

Bhambayi and Phoenix township residents benefit from free health services offered by the Department of Health and its District Support Partners as part of the 'Isibhedlela Kubantu' outreach initiative at Fernham Sports Ground.

KwaZulu-Natal's Provincial Department of Health (KZN DoH) is making good progress in promoting COVID-19 vaccine uptake and mobilising communities to take charge of their health through its Isibhedlela kubantu initiative. In isiZulu, this Nguni term refers to continued efforts by the KZN DoH to take critical hospital services closer to where the people live.

The province still faces high poverty rates, youth unemployment, and a variety of socio-economic ills. Many households are led by the elderly who rely solely on social grants to survive, and who themselves are often physically challenged to travel and reach the province's health facilities.

While KZN has no shortage of clinics and hospitals, one of the issues addressed by Isibhedlela kubantu is the pressing challenge of access. Although clinic services offer a good range of critical Primary Health Care (PHC) services, hospitals offer a much broader bouquet. This was explained by the Deputy Director for eThekwini Health District's North West Service Area, Nonhlanhla Masondo, when she welcomed residents flocking in from the neighbouring Phoenix and Bhambayi townships to Isibhedlela kubantu, which was held at Fernham Sports Ground on 3 June 2022, coinciding with Child Protection Week.

Deputy Director Nonhlanhla Masondo (centre) with HST and DoH staff at one of HST's mobile units during the event.

Deputy Director Masondo was thrilled to announce that entire families could be screened and treated for a variety of ailments at the various stations in which KZN DoH District Support Partners (DSPs) such as the Health Systems Trust (HST) were staffed on the field. She said: "Isibhedlela kubantu is our way of showing you that we care. Through this initiative, our DSPs drive in with their mobile units to help us to give you the very best of healthcare services."

As with the recent DoH Phuthuma Week that promoted COVID-19 vaccine uptake and integrated services at community level across KZN, locals were attended to holistically during Isibhedlela Kubantu in Phoenix.

Isibhedlela kubantu is a one-stop-shop health promotion approach, with KZN DoH personnel teaming up with DSP staff to offer free health screening for tuberculosis (TB), HIV, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and more. Deputy Director Masondo explained: "Through this initiative, we aim to give our clients a 'real life' hospital experience, and are also offering X-rays, Pap smears, eye and dental care services, voluntary medical male circumcision, nurse-initiated management of antiretroviral treatment (NIMART), assistive devices for the elderly … the works!"

Both working in eThekwini's Phoenix Cluster, HST's Lay Counsellor, Thulani Mdluli (left) and Nurse Clinician Sister Lorraine Nzimande (right) say that they are passionate about community outreach and helping other people in general. They provided HIV testing services at the event.

"I love working with people. Being of help and service is in my nature," said Mdluli from KwaMashu, who also said that men should always be encouraged to take good care of their health and wellbeing. "My mother was a caregiver and I think I got it from her." 

"The day is going great," said Bongani Mbatha, HST's Area Co-ordinator (Phoenix Cluster). He works closely with HST's Phoenix Cluster Facility Team Lead, Noluvuyo Sibisi. They agreed on the importance of bringing services to the people, stressing the need for promoting TB and HIV testing, treatment initiation, and ensuring that patients whose treatment for chronic conditions has been interrupted are brought back into care. 


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