THERE was a time when people from villages near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape had to travel, sometimes on foot, about 30 kilometres to get to a clinic.
And when they got there, they had to wait in long queues to see a doctor or nurse.
When patients needed to be transferred to hospital it was a journey of about 200 kilometres.
But those days are gone.
The arrival of Anglo American’s Kolomela Mine in Postmasburg brought not only opportunities for the local people, but also healthcare support.
In line with the mine’s social development strategy, it conducted a health survey, which was followed by a collaboration with the department of health to provide the villages with mobile clinics.
Then Kolomela mine and the department of health provided the villages with mobile clinics, which meant people could get medical attention fast.
Keaobaka Matilo of Kolomela Mine told Daily Sunthe project brought relief to patients and also created jobs as they employed people who drove the mobile clinics as well as nurses to help patients.
As indicated by the survey, the next step was to upgrade the clinic in Postmasburg, which continues to provide primary health services.
Keaobaka said the clinic is classified as an ideal facility by the department of health.
“The clinic, which has been split from the hospital, has six consulting rooms, a pharmacy, a reception area and a medication storage area,” he said.
“We are now focusing on upgrading the hospital itself. We prioritised the paediatric ward, the theatre and the casualty section.
“The casualty section did not have enough beds for patients but that has also been sorted out,” he said.
Keaobaka said they constructed living units for doctors as well.
“The units are occupied by four doctors where they only had two or even one doctors before.”
Keaobaka said they do an impact assessment every three years and realised there are many social problems in the community.
“We came up with several interventions, including establishing trauma and drug abuse centres. We partnered with two NGOs to address social problems at those centres.
“It was critical for us to make sure we didn’t send victims from one centre to another. That is why we call this a medical complex, so they get all the service in the one place.”
For them it wasn’t about the money.
“We are all about touching and changing lives,” he said.
They’ve invested over R40 million in the project in Postmasburg.
“We have created hundreds of jobs. That makes me sleep well at night,” he said.
Sister Refilwe Mokgosi said they provide all the necessary services at the clinic.
“We do baby immunisations and family planning. We provide chronic treatment such as diabetic hypertension, cardiac, ARVs and have a TB programme.”
On a busy day, one sister can see 400 to 500 patients on top of needing to attend to patients with specific illnesses.
“That doesn’t mean when someone sick arrives we won’t attend to them,” she said.
Patient Thandiwe Springbok from Postmasburg said the community was grateful to Kolomela Mine.
“Life was very difficult for us before Kolomela, but now we don’t feel like we are a deserted community anymore. We will always be grateful to them for such services,” she said.
Doctor Flora Medina, originally from Cuba, lives with her family at one of the units.
“Staying here makes my life easier but it also helps patients. If there is an emergency they knock on my door. I’m there for them,” she said.
“Kumba and the Department of Health in the Northern Cape has a long-standing partnership to collaborate to address all aspects of community healthcare issues.
“The objective of this collaboration is to improve access to quality public healthcare facilities with healthcare professionals to benefit communities in line with the Department of Health’s National Health Insurance programme.”
The investment in healthcare made by Kumba made a significant positive impact to the lives of community members.”
FACTS ABOUT THE PROJECT
- Kolomela mine developed a high-tech trauma care unit which accommodates and stabilises the sick and injured before they are moved to medical facilities that can provide further care.
- In 2017, the trauma unit attended to 100 people and 3 500 people visited the primary healthcare clinic next to trauma unit.
- The primary healthcare facility in Postmasburg, upgraded, furnished and equipped at Kumba’s expense in 2015, continues to give comprehensive primary health services to communities surrounding Kolomela Mine.