Public-Private Partnerships Driving Primary Healthcare - Business Media MAGS

CSI Sunday Times

Public-Private Partnerships Driving Primary Healthcare

Several corporates have introduced initiatives that assist the government in providing healthcare services to those who cannot afford private care, reports Trevor Crighton.

Stats SA’s 2017 General Household Survey found that more than 71 per cent of households in South Africa used public health facilities as their first point of access when household members needed healthcare services for an illness or injury.

The task of delivering healthcare services to a population largely dependent on state facilities is immense, and would most likely not be possible without the establishment of several public-private partnerships dedicated to addressing specific needs and serving the country’s vast rural areas.

Mobile clinics

Mondi Group, in association with regional partners such as the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and the Thol’ulwazi Thol’impilo organisation in Mpumalanga and Dube, helps operate nine mobile clinics in these areas. The clinics provide primary healthcare services to employees and communities within the Mondi footprint and to hard-to-reach rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

The mobile clinics are fully electrified with rechargeable batteries and equipped with a remote-controlled outside folding canopy; examination beds; examination lamps; oxygen cylinders; ECG machines; water inlets; air conditioner; microwave; and portable toilets. In 2018, they recorded 81 000 visits.

As part of the project, Thol’ulwazi Thol’impilo and Mondi have partnered with Cotlands to provide toy libraries aimed at early childhood development centres in the Mkhondo district. A toy library trailer is towed by the mobile clinic on its visits to 35 villages a month.

At each stop, a facilitator engages children under the age of five, who are waiting with their parents and guardians, in play-based learning sessions. There are various areas where the children can play and learn with a focus on activities that aim to develop their motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.

Wide-ranging initiatives

Johnson & Johnson fund and facilitate several primary healthcare initiatives across the country, in partnership with the National Department of Health and other stakeholders.

Over 850 million learners, predominantly in disadvantaged, underserviced and densely-populated areas worldwide, are infected with parasitic worms. Johnson & Johnson has been supporting the deworming of children in endemic countries since 2006 and has donated 200 million doses a year since 2012 through the World Health Organisation. This donation supports  a national school deworming programme in South Africa, reaching an average of five million learners each year since 2016.  The three-phase programme targets learners from Grade R to Grade 7 at quintile 1-3 schools (no-fee schools) across the country.

The company also supports the Unjani Clinics network, a sustainable initiative that aims to strengthen health systems in vulnerable areas by investing in vital training and resources for nurses and improving the access to and quality of affordable primary healthcare for low-income communities throughout South Africa.

The innovative service delivery model empowers nurses and clinic owners to become community health entrepreneurs, providing them with training and a local “container health centre”, relevant medical equipment and supplies, and ongoing medical, financial management and patient service training. The initiative aims to grow its network of clinics and as many as 400 000 patients by the end of 2019. The project has trained and empowered 55 new healthcare entrepreneurs, establishing the same number of new clinics in local communities. More than 773 000 patients have been engaged since the inception of the project, and over 230 permanent healthcare jobs will have been created by the end of 2019.

The Johnson & Johnson Burn Treatment Centre at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital was established in 1991 and has become the continent’s premier burn treatment centre at the world’s largest hospital. The dedicated space for treating and managing serious burn cases has also offered the opportunity to maximise the use of plastic surgery, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and microbiology, and has facilitated research into infection control.

Live-streaming of surgical procedures and talks on burn management by award-winning burn management specialists helps promote the transfer of skills to academic and medical facilities throughout Africa and facilitates the training of an average of 25 junior doctors annually.

More than 600 children and over 250 adults are treated in the respective sections at the facility each year. It has seen over 18 000 admissions throughout its existence, and more than 14 500 surgical procedures have been performed.

Fighting the vaccination battle

As an Unjani Clinics partner, Pfizer is currently in the process of sponsoring its fourth clinic, and, through the Pfizer Foundation, has donated over 57 sonar machines over the past three years, and provided funding for the procurement of printers, trolleys and certified training for 28 clinics in the network.

The sonar machines have played a major role in assisting in the reduction of infant mortality rates and early detection of pregnancy abnormalities.

Through a partnership with Biovac, Pfizer is helping in the fight against pneumonia in South Africa. This public-private partnership aims to re-establish domestic manufacturing of human vaccines in order for southern Africa to be able to respond to its own vaccine-preventable diseases. Biovac currently supplies over 25 million doses of vaccines annually throughout southern Africa and Pfizer will transfer formulation and filling manufacturing technology to Biovac that will enable production of the company’s Prevnar 13 anti-pneumonia vaccine at Biovac’s new manufacturing facility in Cape Town, from 2021.

The partnership will deliver benefits in terms of technology and skills transfer; local investment and increased economic activity; a reduction in the pneumococcal burden of disease, and quality and safety benefits in the areas of manufacture, distribution and supply.

Keeping the economy moving

The Trucking Wellness Programme, launched in 1999 as an initiative of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), is a primary healthcare delivery system dedicated to serving the health and wellness needs of employees in the road freight and logistics industry.

Over the course of 20 years, the programme has evolved into a sustainable model of primary healthcare delivery to key populations (including truck drivers, commercial sex workers and communities at large). The programme is facilitated by a network of mobile and fixed roadside wellness centres on all major trucking routes and across South Africa’s borders.

The programme includes a wide range of accessible, free primary healthcare services including condom use education and distribution; screening, diagnosis, treatment and education on STI, HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria; screening tests for blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol and body mass index; and the diagnosis, treatment, care and support of primary health concerns.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has been involved in the Trucking Wellness Programme since 2009 and has helped facilitate a Fleet Owner Wellness Programme as an element

of the project since 2013. This has been implemented across a select group of MBSA’s fleet customers. The programme assists fleet owners to better understand, identify, prevent and manage the risks associated with ill health and disease in the workplace. It aims to improve healthy lifestyle choices to manage and reduce the business risks associated with ill health and diseases in the workplace.

To date, it has reached over 6 000 employees in the sector.

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