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Health

Johannesburg's Mobile Health Clinics Could Help Improve Access to Care for Millions of People


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Johannesburg residents who cannot afford private health care are getting help from the city in the form of mobile clinics that travel to different communities.

The initiative is part of Mayor Herman Mashaba’s vision of helping under-serviced communities to access basic health care, according to a media statement from the mayor’s office.

The city delivered the second of 10 mobile clinics to the community of Kokotela, Lawley, and surrounding areas in Region G on Aug. 12. The mobile clinics offer HIV testing and counselling, TB screening and treatment, pap smears, screenings for prostate cancer, and antenatal care, among other services.

Region G is located in the south of Johannesburg and covers 48 residential areas (however, this new mobile clinic currently only goes to five communities).

The Johannesburg metropolitan area has an estimated population of 10.5 million, and only around 100 clinics — 81 of these clinics are managed by the city while the rest fall under the administration of the Gauteng provincial government. Region G has 20 clinics.

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Municipal Councillor Mpho Phalatse said the city hopes the mobile clinic will help alleviate some of the barriers to accessing quality health care.

“We are very grateful and appreciative that against all the challenges our staff face on a daily basis, they remain committed to going out and offering services — wherever our patients are,” he said in a statement.

He added that rolling out mobile clinics doesn’t mean that the city will not be looking into addressing the shortage of clinics.

“I must also mention that although we are introducing these mobile clinics, we remain committed to the provision of fixed clinics where populations warrant this development," he said.

Johannesburg’s challenges with access to health care are not unique to the city or the province of Gauteng.

Public clinics and hospitals generally have poor service, and for the estimated 43 million people who don’t have health insurance, the public health care system is the only option.

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In 2018, the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) published a report on the state of public health facilities between 2014 and 2017.

The report investigates issues that ranged from cleanliness, the availability of medicines, and patient waiting times, as well as access health care, infrastructure, and how patients are treated by health care workers.

According to the report, only 696 of the hospitals and clinics that were inspected between 2016 and 2017 met the adequate standards.