Overseas backing for township clinic

Neo Bodumela

A MULTINATIONAL effort comprising overseas funders and helpers, and Nelson Mandela Bay doctors and pharmacists has resulted in a much- needed community clinic being built in the city’s impoverished Missionvale township.

The project – an extension of the Missionvale Care Centre started by 2004 The Herald Citizen of the Year winner Sister Ethel Normoyle – is run with the help of retired Bay doctor and volunteer at the General Practitioners’ Unit, Dr Johann Strombeck.

The idea was born out of the need for a qualified doctor in the area.

And while the unit, which opened in January, has managed to open twice weekly, organisers are calling for more qualified doctors and nurses to donate time so the clinic can open five days a week.

“We urgently need more doctors, nurses and pharmacists to volunteer their time for the unit to be sustainable,” spokeswoman for the project Linda van Oudheusden said.

As with the Missionvale Care Centre, overseas volunteers also help out at the unit.

Funding for the building of the unit came from a Rotary Club in San Diego, United States, via the Port Elizabeth East Rotary Club.

“We have also been very fortunate to partner with an organisation called Khaya Volunteer Projects which has sent us a few nurses from abroad, but they will be going home soon.

“If we haven’t received more volunteers by August 8 we will have nobody to help us in the clinic,” Van Oudheusden said.

The long-term plan was to have the clinic, which has seen over 240 patients a month over the last five months, open five days a week to serve the area.

Strombeck, the only doctor at the unit, said it was becoming a “strong force” in the area.

“The clinic is already becoming famous, because we have heard that people from surrounding areas are also coming here because they know they can get checked by a doctor and maybe get an injection.

“It is becoming a strong force in the area. We are offering a free service to the community because there is no permanent doctor in the area.

“If they are really sick they would have to go to Dora Nginza Hospital, but they don’t have the money for transport there,” Strombeck said.

Nontombi Mfundisi, who lives in Missionvale, said the unit would help her take better care of her husband, who has epilepsy.

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