March marked the first month of our SHAWCO Health Weekday Clinics. After our basic skills workshop in February, our Health Sciences student volunteers, a.k.a SHAWCO-ites, came clinic-ready with all the knowledge they had learnt. The basic skills workshop equipped them with key skills needed for patient consultations; from history-taking, to measuring vital signs and clinical examinations.
Our weekday clinics are not only important for providing primary health care to our under-resourced Cape Town communities, but also offer invaluable exposure to the clinical platform and are especially beneficial to our pre-clinical students as it prepares them for the years ahead.
Over the last month, we took our SHAWCO Health mobile clinics to our sites in Wynberg, Masiphumelele, Simthandile (Khayelitsha), New Rest (Gugulethu) and Brown’s Farm (Philippi). We were able to see a total of 54 patients and had 57 student volunteers and 7 doctors attend our clinics.
The SHAWCO Health clinics are run by a group of students both in front of and behind the scenes, each playing a key part in the running of clinics and collaborating with community health workers (CHWs) to connect our patients to our keen student volunteers. Our Head and Deputy Head of Clinics are responsible for the planning of the clinics, including setting up the clinics calendar and budget for the year. They also look for volunteer doctors, communicate with the CHWs, and provide training to the clinic subcommittee.
The subcommittee members for each weekday are responsible for taking out & ensuring the efficient running of our clinics. This includes encouraging students to attend, ensuring that all equipment and medication is packed for the mobile clinics, as well as assisting the volunteers during the clinics.
Our clinics would not be possible if it were not for the communities we serve, which is why the role of our CHWs is so important. Our CHWs are much better acquainted with the needs of the community, they recruit patients to attend our clinics and assist with the running of clinics.
SHAWCO Health is proud to be continuing our 80-year legacy and adapting to an ever-evolving world while still addressing the never-ending gap in healthcare access in our local communities. It is in the spirit of Ubuntu that we have so many volunteers dedicating their time to provide basic health care to those who need it most. While we understand our limitations as a student-led NPO, we nevertheless take the time to treat each patient in as holistic a manner as possible. Despite university and work demands, rainy nights and the constant disruptions of loadshedding, our dedicated team of students and doctors showed up and decided that our communities still take precedence.
-Siyakha Mbhejwa: SHAWCO Health, Head of Marketing