More Johannesburg residents now have increased access to quality primary healthcare services after Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba introduced extended operating hours at five more public clinics across the city on Monday April 3.
The move follows a highly successful pilot project launched by Mayor Mashaba at Princess Crossing Clinic in Roodepoort, Region C, in October last year.
Addressing more than 300 residents at Freedom Park Clinic in Region G, Cllr Mashaba said the extended operating hours were aimed at improving access to quality healthcare in communities. He said the initiative formed part of his executive’s 10-point plan which, among other things, prioritises running a pro-poor government.
The Mayor was accompanied to the launch by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Mpho Phalatse, Executive Director of Health Dr Refik Basmilla, Executive Director of Social Development Wandile Zwane, Cllr Mangaliso Ngwenya, Section 79 Committee Chairperson Cllr Ingrid Reinten and Deputy Regional Director Hlubi Ntamehlo.
“It’s a great honour and pleasure for me to launch the extended operating hours for Freedom Park Clinic, an undertaking I believe is bound to make a significant improvement to the provision of quality healthcare services in this community,” said Mayor Mashaba.
Freedom Park Clinic, which also services Naturena and other surrounding areas, had until March 31 treated between 250 and 300 patients daily from 7am to 4pm. It will now open from 7am to 10pm on weekdays and from 7.30am to 1.30pm over weekends and public holidays.
Four other clinics – Hikhensile in Region A, Randburg (Region B), Zandspruit (Region C) and Albert Street (Region F) – will also open for longer hours: until 7pm on weekdays.
“This administration is committed to bringing about the change our residents demanded when they elected us. Healthy people are a prerequisite for the economic success of Johannesburg. As I always say, a healthy city is a working city,” the Mayor said.
He said between November 2016 and February 2017 more than 10 790 patients visited the Princess Crossing Clinic. Of these, almost 3 000 visited it after normal operating hours.
“One of the substantial advantages of this strategy is that everyone can get the care they need exactly when they need it. It is also a perfect solution for those who need a routine check-up or want assistance with managing chronic conditions without having to take a day off work or school,” he said.
Additional staff members have been employed. These include four nurses, a social worker, two drivers, two administrators, a health promoter and a general worker.
“We need to put healthcare back into the hands of professionals and out of the often harmful influence of politicians. One does not have to look further than the Life Esidimeni tragedy to see the importance of this.”
The social worker’s focus at the clinic will be on community development and community mobilisation with emphasis on providing psychosocial support, skills development, food security, early childhood development, youth development programmes and drug abuse prevention.
“Our clinics must be transformed from being mere health care facilities to being multi-functional centres,” said the Mayor
MMC Phalatse said the extended operating hours addressed one of the most basic human rights as enshrined in section 27 of the Constitution – access to healthcare. She said with the employment of a fulltime social worker, her department would create social and physical environments promoting good health for all.
“Our work has an integrated and holistic focus on the wellbeing of communities, ensuring preventative as well as curative health services across all age groups,” Cllr Phalatse said.
Resident Ella Baloyi appealed to locals to protect the clinic and its staff. “Let’s keep an eye on the criminal elements so we can keep the nurses safe,” Baloyi said.