Posted By: Stefan Lawson on February 9, 2011

Labels: Africa , South Africa , Chronic Disease, Health Care Education

The HOPE Centre project is located in a township called Zandspruit which is about 45 minutes away from downtown Johannesburg. It has a population of around 75,000 people with the vast majority living in shacks like the one pictured. Services to the township are pretty limited. Bordering on Zandspruit are an additional 3 townships, one of which is now formalized - meaning the government is building low-cost housing and 2 are squatter camps. So the total population in the area is around 300,000. In terms of health care they have access to one primary clinic that is staffed by a couple of nurses. Waiting times are lengthy and many people only go when they are extremely ill. Little preventive medicine is done resulting in many people developing these diseases that are easily preventable.

The HOPE Centre really is a beacon of light in this quite depressing environment. First and foremost it will educate the community about the risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases that are having such a detrimental effect on people's lives. Secondly, it will provide needed access to trained health professionals who can deal with the various illnesses and associated resulting complications.

Yesterday was an important day in the development of the HOPE Centre project. We had a visit from the Department of Health to the site to look at our facilities and confirm that we could go ahead with the project. I am glad to report that we got the OK, and we are now good to go. Partnering with the government is so important, particularly from the standpoint of sustainability and future handover. We are now in the process of formalizing the partnership with an memorandum of understanding that will hold all partners accountable.

So, after a long wait I can finally formally introduce you to our new clinic. Project HOPE has partnered with a local NGO called Emthonjeni Community Centre. This organization was many years ago donated a significant piece of land and buildings in what is now the heart of Zandspruit.

This building, a beautiful thatched house and outlying buildings serve as offices for a variety of NGOs working in the community. Currently, two days a week an antenatal clinic is run from the building. Project HOPE will work out of these two clinic rooms initially one day per week, expanding the services as we raise funds running the chronic care clinic. It is hoped that in time we will be able to build a newer, larger clinic on the site in the not too distant future.

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