Western Cape Health Minister Launches Wellness Centres
On Tuesday morning, 11 March 2014 the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, launched the Wellness Centres project at Mitchells Plain Hospital. The project is the result of a partnership agreement between Western Cape Government Health and private sector service providers, amongst which the Independent Pharmacy Association, Emerging Market Healthcare, Cipla’s Owethu Clinic, Metropolitan Health, Pick ‘n Pay, Dis-Chem and Clicks.
The private partners will provide the screening for a user fee, while Western Cape Government Health will provide the HIV testing kits on the understanding that a minimum of 10% of their operating hours be made available for free services.
This initiative builds on the current model of supplying family planning and vaccines through selected private partners by including the package of screening as an additional service for the first time.
The following partners are involved in the piloting phase and will be offering the services at 16 pilot sites:
- Metropolitan Health: Cape Town Station and Somerset West.
- EOH Health (site to be confirmed).
- Clicks: Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain.
- Pick ‘n Pay: Mitchells Plain and Table View.
- Independent Community Pharmacy Association: Khayelitsha and Mowbray.
- Emerging Market Healthcare: Mitchells Plain, Parkwood, Rylands and Woodstock.
- Dis-Chem: Table View and Tokai.
- Cipla Owethu Clinic: Stellenbosch.
Speaking at the launch, chairman of Emerging Market Healthcare, Dr Sugen Naidoo, said: "The view of EMC in representing township family practitioners sees screening is that wellness is part of the scope of service of the doctor and is therefore excited to partner with the Western Cape Department of Health to assess whether such screening services shall be feasible and sustainable in the context of private family practice."
CEO of Metropolitan Health, Mr Blum Kahn, said: "Metropolitan Health is pleased to be a partner, in supporting the Department of Health with this important wellness initiative, as we share the same goal, which is to reduce the burden of disease and the escalating costs of healthcare, through making primary healthcare more accessible for the insured and uninsured communities, and by providing cost-effective healthcare through our capable nurse-driven clinics whilst sustaining the community pharmacists. In that way we emphasise the opportunity for medical schemes and other private funders to reduce costs through community-based structures."
Cipla marketing director, Mr Rynard van der Westhuizen, said: "Owethu is a Cipla initiative, aiming to increase the access to Primary Healthcare within areas most in need."
CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association, Jackie Maimin, said: "ICPA and independent community pharmacy welcome the invitation to participate in the Western Cape Department of Health’s Wellness Clinic initiative and fully support their programme."
Pick ‘n Pay Pharmacy general manager, Ms Sue Jarvis, said: "Pick ‘n Pay, always there for you, hence our commitment to the wellness project."
Clinic category manager of Dis-Chem, Ms. Lizeth Kruger, said: "Dis-Chem Clinics for all joining hands with the private sector and government in striving to bring wellness to the entire community."
Clicks Retailers Head of Health Care, Rachel Wigglesworth, said: "Clicks subscribes to the ethos of holistic healthcare, and is proud to be involved in this strategic partnership role to assist the Department in realising the shared vision of a future health service built on a foundation of trust, leading to a better life for all. We look forward to walking this road together."
Structure of the Agreement
The Wellness Centres will provide screening services for a user fee. Western Cape Government Health will provide HIV testing kits, on the understanding that a minimum of 10% of their operating hours are made available for free services. The initiative builds on the agreement with pharmacies to supply family planning and vaccines.
In his address Minister Botha said: "This is the third event in our strides towards the objective of Creating Wellness. The first was the partnership agreements with pharmacy groups and pharmacists to provide vaccinations and family planning stock to state patients. The second was the introduction of the mobile school health clinics."
"In terms of this third bold step, the partnership agreement with service providers will provide a package of screening services for common Non-Communicable Diseases and HIV."
"The clinics that will offer these screenings will be known as "Wellness Centres" and the aim is to reduce the burden of disease through early detection."
"As far as we are aware, the "increasing wellness" project is a world first in public health management. It is a bold step that we have taken in the Western Cape to reduce illness, and promote wellness. The impact will only be tangible in the long term."
Co-operation between the government of the day and service providers to jointly design and deliver some services is a necessary development to respond to the needs of communities.
The Western Cape Government’s strategic objectives is based on the approach that the only sustainable way to beat poverty is by creating opportunities for growth and jobs. From an economic development point of view, it regards the health sector as one of the most important areas to create economic growth. The strategic objective of "Creating Wellness" is a new policy direction to create opportunities for partners to take co-responsibility for health services.
One of the key ways in which the Western Cape has tried to improve healthcare quality across the province is through innovative partnerships that leverage the talents of the private sector for the benefit of public sector patients. It is based on a win-win philosophy that improves the physical health of patients and the financial health of the economy. The objective is that all parties Western Cape Government, health consumers and service providers - can participate in the improvement of the total health service outcome.
- Strengthening the relationships between public and private health care sectors.
- Increased access to care.
- Decrease in patient waiting time.
- Decongestion of state facilities.
- For public health managers it means that we are able to focus on the core of our work – public health management – and the delivery of services are in the hands of the health sector, both public and private.
- For service providers the project has brought about a means to interact directly with Government, and access the database of the public health domain.
- The greater significance within the health sector is that the players in the public and private health domain are on one playing field, no longer as opponents, but as healthy competitors for the sake of a common denominator, namely improving the quality of life of all citizens through improved health services.