Ministers of Health and Education pay oversight visit to Wellness Mobile for School Health at Impendulo Primary

Joint statement by minister Debbie Schafer and Minister Nomafrench Mbombo:

Minister Schäfer  and Minister Mbombo paid an oversight visit to the Wellness Mobile Clinic for School Health at the Impendulo Primary School in Khayelitsha on 28 July 2015.

The two Ministers visited this particular school in an attempt to ensure that communities are aware of the services that are available to Grade R – 1 learners.

The School Wellness Mobile Project is a successful collaboration with the private sector. This flagship project of the Western Cape Government was rolled out in 2014 as a transversal strategy by the Departments of Health and Education. The project was the first in which the two departments are collaborating to advance the Integrated School Health Programme.

The Western Cape Government is extremely pleased that the project has been received so well by the various schools in the Province.

It has been instrumental in taking primary healthcare to children in ‘hard-to-reach-areas’ of our province. It has assisted us in ensuring that no child goes through school without having had the necessary screenings to propel them through their school career.

The business model that we have used here is the outsourcing of our non-core services. This enables us to rent the mobile clinic vehicles from a service provider, while the department of health provides the actual health services and healthcare workers.

“The Western Cape Government is committed to providing quality healthcare services to the entire population in the Western Cape.  The focus is on prevention and promotion of wellness rather than the curative. This project is playing such a key role in particularly poor and rural areas, screening learners for conditions that require the necessary intervention” said Mbombo.

The total number of schools served by the mobiles since the start of the service is 318.

The total number of learners who benefitted from the different components of the service amounts to 29 423.

Table 2: Summary of screenings on the mobile – July 2014 to May 2015
West Coast 1294 41 1800 1558 4693
Metro 2 289 53 1125 1353 2820
Cape Winelands 378 66 4582 2752 7778
Metro 1 2750 1803 2165 3112 9830
Overberg 0 0 2121 1021 3142
Central Karoo 0 0 597 563 1160
Total 4711 1963 12390 10359 29423

Each Wellness Mobile for School Health includes:

  • a consultation room where general health screening can be performed. This includes a physical assessment, assessment of gross motor skills, height and weight, ear, nose and throat examination, screening for TB symptoms and other psycho-social issues.
  • a dental unit section for screening for oral health and rendering of dental and oral hygiene services; and
  • an optometry unit, for the testing of eyesight in order to provide learners with spectacles if needed.
  • These units were selected to be included in the Wellness Mobiles after it was found that many young learners living in poor areas did not have access to these health services. The advantage of this one-stop health service is that learners, who are identified as needing spectacles and dental care, will now be attended to on the spot.

Each Wellness Mobile is staffed by a school nurse, an optometrist and a dentist. The initial focus of the roll out of this service is Grade R and Grade 1 learners in the poorest Quintile 1 and 2 schools.

We are also focusing on schools situated in areas where it is most challenging for parents to access dentists and optometrists. We believe that ensuring that poor learners have proper access to health services, including spectacles and dental care, will also have a positive effect on education outcomes in the province.

“We are really excited about being able to bring healthcare to schools using state of the art technology. We have discovered that there are a number of children who have simple health problems, such as bad eyesight, that are often left undetected and which negatively affect their schoolwork.  It is a tragedy if the reason people cannot read is not because they do not have the ability, but because they cannot see properly.  The reasons that these issues are not detected often relate to the fact that the parents are not able to afford screening such as this.  The mobile clinics have already made a huge contribution in addressing this problem” said Schäfer.