Ministers Visit Wellness Mobile to Screen West Coast Learners
Today two provincial ministers, Theuns Botha (Health) and Albert Fritz (Social Development) visited the St Thomas Primary School in Malmesbury on the West Coast to view the Wellness Mobile for School Health that will screen Grade R and Grade 1 learners.
The Wellness Mobiles started being rolled-out to schools across the province this month in order to screen Grade R and Grade 1 learners to identify vision, speech, hearing or skin problems as well as to assess their motor skills, mental health, oral health and test them for Tuberculosis (TB).
The fleet of five state-of-the-art wellness mobiles is a flagship project for the Western Cape Government. Two wellness mobiles are screening learners in the Metro, one on the West Coast, one in the Cape Winelands, and one in the Overberg.
Over the next 10 weeks the West Coast Wellness Mobile will visit 28 schools in the area, screening an average of 40 learners per day. The schools are situated in Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, Riebeeck-West, Darling, Velddrif, Piketberg and Porterville.
The Integrated School Health Programme is expected to contribute to the provincial government’s Creating Wellness objective by improving the health of learners. The project will also contribute to improving education outcomes as it has been designed to reduce health problems that often serve as barriers to learning such as poor eyesight and dental cavities.
”We have discovered that there are a number of children who have easily remedied health problems, such as bad eyesight but that these are often undetected and therefore not treated. This then negatively affects young people’s learning and development. It is a tragedy if we have a situation where children are not able to excel at school because of something as simple as them not being able to see properly. The reason that these health problems are often not detected is because parents are not able to afford having their children screened or health services are not easily accessible because of where families live. The mobile clinics will make a major contribution when it comes to addressing this problem, particularly in underprivileged communities and in rural areas ,” says Minister Schäfer.
Each Wellness Mobile for School Health is staffed by a school nurse, an optometrist and a dentist and includes:
- A consultation room where general health screening can be performed. This includes a physical assessment, assessment of gross motor skills, height and weight, ear, nose and throat examination, screening for TB symptoms and other psycho-social issues.
- A dental unit section for screening for oral health and rendering of dental and oral hygiene services; and
- An optometry unit, for the testing of eyesight in order to provide learners with spectacles if needed.
Minister Botha says: “Finally we are able to bring healthcare to schools using state-of-the art technology, in smart vehicles, with equipment of the highest standard. For example, the optometrist will use digital technology which transmits the readings of the child’s visual status electronically to the laboratory that manufactures the spectacles, and the spectacles will be delivered a week later.”
Minister Fritz commented that the timeous diagnosis of detrimental health problems will go a long way to improve the social fabric of society. “The access to health services that the Wellness Mobiles are offering to our learners in poor areas, will go a long way when it comes to our interventions in uplifting poor communities and promoting social cohesion. It offers the opportunity for government to form an integrated catchment and support network for learners that are struggling because of their home circumstances.”
The 10-year contract for the mobile health service was awarded to Mobile Satellite Technologies, a company that specialises in the provision of mobile services. The vehicles are supplied with solar power and generators and carry their own water supply. Plans for waste water and medical waste management have also been included in the mobiles. The vehicles are equipped with air-conditioning, a kitchenette and toilet facilities.