Our community is situated in one of the most remote and rural areas of South Africa. Despite the nearest clinic being less than 10 kilometres away from us, the journey and waiting times for healthcare typically take an entire day.
Being far from healthcare in our community is why most children were not fully immunised, and why over half of mothers had lost at least one child to diarrhoea diseases. Being far from a pharmacy made getting HIV treatment difficult, and hypertension would go untreated, leading to many people being permanently disabled or dead from a stroke or heart attack.
In 2012, we established the Bulungula Health Point as a centralised location for our community to collect their HIV treatment and get tested. The simple, one-room mud-brick hut donated by our community soon became an ideal site for mobile health clinics, support groups, and other health outreach events.
As the Health Point’s success and demand grew over the years, we strengthened our partnership with the government’s Department of Health to expand its capacity. In 2021, Bulungula Health Point was approved as a fixed outreach point of Nkanya Clinic, securing monthly supplies of medicines and consumables.
Open five days a week and staffed by three nurses, Bulungula Health Point offers primary healthcare services to our community. This includes child nutrition and health, maternal and neonatal health, sexual and reproductive health, dentistry, immunisations, mental health support, HIV testing, ARV and chronic medication distribution, noncommunicable disease support, and acute and minor ailment care.
The health point sees over 400 patients monthly, with the vast majority receiving on-site treatment. Providing primary healthcare locally improves patient outcomes, reducing the load on government hospitals and lowering the need for expensive care.
This year, we’ve been busy renovating Bulungula Health Point to support its expansion. The facility is now equipped with three exam rooms, a reception area, a waiting area, a pharmacy, an office, AND a kitchen—welcome to Bulungula Health Point 3.0!
We are excited about Bulungula Health Point’s growth and continued commitment to providing primary care for our community. However, its true significance lies in being a compelling example of how a community-based organisation can establish and operate a high-quality healthcare facility while integrating it into the government’s primary care system. This replicable model proves successful in bringing accessible healthcare to rural areas in South Africa.
Read more about our health programme and how it is a model for the National Health Insurance scheme: https://bhekisisa.org/opinion/2022-08-30-this-three-legged-potjie-doesnt-wobble-nhi-lessons-for-deep-rural-south-africa/