Cipla Foundation, the social enterprise division of leading pharmaceutical manufacturer, Cipla SA (Cipla Medpro), in partnership with NGO LIV Village has officially launched an Owethu primary healthcare modular clinic in Cottanlands, KwaZulu-Natal. The clinic, worth approximately R3-million, will provide access to primary healthcare treatments and information to the community of approximately approximately 12,000.

Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla SA, says the clinic will deliver critical medical services such as HIV testing and counselling, ARV health management, respiratory screenings and dental care, to name a few. “In order to successfully roll-out this Owethu clinic in the community and to ensure that the clinic ultimately becomes self-sustainable, we have partnered with Liv Village who will be responsible for the daily running of the clinic.”

Miller explains that the Cottonlands village works on a long-term cluster foster care model, where orphaned children are placed in one of eight homes surrounding a communal play area. “Each home has a fully trained ‘House Mother’ who is given up to six children by the Department of Social Welfare to care for.”

Tich Smith, Founder of LIV Village says that this is an exciting project as business, government and the church come together to offer the community a high quality health service.

“I believe that we as business need to stand alongside Government in order to offer these facilities to the rural communities.  It is projects such as this that will greatly reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, which I truly believe is the biggest problem that we face in this nation today. It is a great privilege for us to partner with KZN Provincial Government and Cipla to offer this service.  These projects also help to fulfil our aim of creating jobs for the rural communities”.

Miller explains that while access to affordable healthcare is constitutionally enshrined in South Africa, considerable inequalities in this regard still exist. “Access barriers include vast distances and high travel costs (especially in rural areas), high out-of-pocket payments for care, long queues at public healthcare facilities and disempowered patients.”

He adds that while the state contributes about 40% of all expenditure on health, the public health sector is under pressure to deliver services to about 80% of the population. “To address this issue and provide support to the DoH and in future the NHI, Cipla Foundation developed the Owethu fully serviced modular clinics project to increase access to affordable medication and to the 80% of the population dependent on government in this regard.”

The Owethu modular clinics project was specifically designed to address the government policy - highlighted by the 2013 National Development Plan also known as the 2030 plan- of providing access to an equal standard of healthcare, regardless of income, says Miller. “This model is a turnkey solution to provide a first board of call for patients in underprivileged communities, thereby alleviating the pressure currently faced by public clinics and healthcare institutions. Cipla encourages government and the private sector to invest in the Owethu initiative, in order to roll these modular primary healthcare clinics out on a national scale.”

Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal said the department is excited about the initiative. “We appreciate the support from Cipla and we recognise the structure as a first of its kind in our area.”

Miller explains that the structure is fully furnished with medical equipment and surgical instruments such as emergency resuscitation equipment and oxygen cylinders. “The entire clinic runs on an electronic healthcare management system, developed by Health Solutions Africa (HSA). The system allows confidential management of patient’s treatment in accordance with strict medical protocols.”

He says that the Owethu modular clinic can be replicated in other communities through effective and sustainable partnerships, and can be managed by NGO’s and other forms of outsourced providers identified by government. “We urge other corporates to partner with the Cipla Foundation so that more communities can benefit from the services of an Owethu clinic, as well as other future projects across our line of initiatives.”

To celebrate the launch of the Owethu Modular clinic in Cottanlands, Cipla Global’s Chairman, Dr Yusuf Hamied – known as the pioneer of fixed dose combinations for the treatment of HIV/Aids –travelled from the global head office in India to attend the launch of the clinic.

Dr Hamied said that the organisation hoped to decrease the price of oncology treatments in the country, in a similar manner as it did with HIV/Aids medication, in the near future. “In accordance with out ethos that none should be denied access to affordable healthcare I recognise this clinic as a beacon of hope of the community,” concludes Hamied.