Primary healthcare for empowerment

Unjani Clinics are run by nurses, and they allow for the growth of women entrepreneurs. Photo courtesy Unjani Clinics

Unjani Clinics are run by nurses, and they allow for the growth of women entrepreneurs. Photo courtesy Unjani Clinics

South Africa’s healthcare system is overburdened by the affliction of HIV, tuberculosis and non-communicable disease, as well as the fact that 84% of the population is dependent on a public sector system that is struggling to cope.

Private-public sector partnerships have helped to ease the load, building capacity and skills in communities with insufficient health resources. There is definite demand for affordable, community-based services.

Unjani Clinics, an initiative of Imperial Health Services from the multinational giant Imperial Holdings, is an enterprise development programme that provides primary healthcare to the underserved low-income sector that is employed but uninsured.

A registered non-profit company, the clinics follow an innovative entrepreneurship model where nurses are provided with the skills and support they need to run the clinics as a business. The clinics are 100% black women owned and nurse-led, and are all conveniently located.

“By providing patients with an alternative service delivery option, at an affordable price, we are not only empowering women and building small, sustainable businesses, but creating employment and creating capacity by relieving strain on the local government clinics,” says Unjani Clinics Network chief executive Lynda Toussaint.

Patients without medical aid can choose to use a free government clinic, or go to their local Unjani Clinic for an affordable consultation fee.

Toussaint says the numbers show patients have been “voting with their feet” — the 29 Unjani Clinics have seen more than 210 000 patients since January 2013.

“With our patient-centric focus, the Unjani Clinics provide a quality service and improve healthcare outcomes.”

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