Samsung Electronics Africa yesterday stationed two of its solar powered health centres next to Oasis Itsoseng Community Clinic in Cosmo City, providing members of the community with a variety of eye, ear, blood, dental, and pre- and post-natal screenings and treatments.
Medical doctors from the University of Limpopo’s Medunsa campus were on site to examine and treat patients, while Samsung employees assisted with logistics and collecting statistical data as part of their annual Employee Volunteer Programme.
The two mobile units are designed for use in rural and underserviced areas, and are intended to eliminate the economic and geographic barriers that prevent people from across Africa from obtaining quality medical treatment.
Samsung has set itself a goal to reach 1-million people through its solar powered health centres by 2015 – as part of its broader CSR goal to positively impact the lives of five million people in Africa by 2015.
“Today, we are seeing an innovation we’ve worked hard on developing come to life, and it is very exciting,” says Kea’ Modimoeng, Public Affairs and Common Shared Value manager at Samsung Electronics Africa.
“Good health is at the centre of one’s well-being, and impacts society at a fundamental level. It affects a child’s ability to learn at full potential, and an adult’s ability to provide for their family. This is why we have complemented our strong focus on education with a focus on quality healthcare.”
The Solar Powered Health Centre model was launched in March this year at Samsung Africa Forum, but the outreach in Cosmos City today marks the first time it has been made accessible to the public. It also marks the launch of the ‘Mother and Child’ edition of the unit, which is specifically designed to provide medical services to mothers and their babies.
According to the World Bank, more than 60% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live in rural areas. These people often lack the time and resources to reach clinics for proactive medical care, and particularly if they are ill and unable to make long journeys.
Clinics across the continent are also often unable to effectively service communities due to a lack of resources, coupled with high demand.
“I need to come to the local clinic once a month as I suffer from high blood pressure. I get here at 06:30 and am usually only seen by the doctor by 12:30 or 13:00,” says Virginia Manyanye, a 49-year-old resident of Cosmo City.
“The walk to the clinic is a long one, and often I am turned away because the clinic does not have the right medicine in stock.”
Mounted on a truck and manned by qualified medical professionals, the Solar Powered Health Centres are able to move from one area to the next providing a range of medical services to the public.
A large focus will be placed on screening people to establish common afflictions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and cataracts. The centres will also focus on educating communities about health issues and encouraging people to take tests as preventative measure.
“The challenge regarding healthcare in South Africa is not only access to a physical clinic, but also access to alternative treatments,” says Dr Pagollang Motloba, a Dentist from Medunsa.
“For example, most local clinics are only able to perform extractions when it comes to dental care. No crown or bridge work can be done due to a lack of equipment. This is why we are happy to partner with organisations like Samsung on solutions that open up alternatives and quality medical treatment to people on a sustainable basis.”
Samsung has shifted from focusing on “corporate social responsibility”, which is underlined by corporate accountability towards a new approach driven by the desire to create “Common Shared Value”, and underlined by both profit maximisation and improving people’s lives.
This means that all of its education, health and community development programmes will serve a dual purpose: supporting the company’s business goals through the development of a skilled, healthy workforce and consumer base, while at the same time improving the lives of people in Africa.