The Western Cape (WC) Government has started to roll out their Wellness Mobiles for School Health programme to schools across the province to screen Grade R and Grade 1 learners for vision, speech, hearing or skin problems as well as to assess their motor skills, mental health, oral health and test them for TB.

Each Wellness Mobile includes a consultation room where general health screening can be performed, a dental unit section and an optometry unit, and is staffed by a school nurse, an optometrist and a dentist. These units were selected for the Wellness Mobiles after it was found that many young learners living in poor areas did not have access to these health services.

The initial focus of the roll out of this service is Grade R and Grade 1 learners in the poorest Quintile 1 and 2 schools. The programme is also focusing on schools situated in areas where it is most challenging for parents to access dentists and optometrists.

The fleet of five state-of-the-art wellness mobiles is a flagship project for WC Government and a demonstration of the provincial departments of Education and Health working better together. The project is the first in which the two departments are putting life into the Integrated School Health Programme in this fashion.

Yesterday the WC Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, and local councillors and officials from the Department of Health and Education visited two rural schools – one in Grabouw and one in Paarl – where learners are screened in the province’s state-of-the-art Wellness Mobiles for School Health programme.

“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. The project has been designed to reduce the barriers to learning caused by health problems such as poor eyesight and dental caries,” said Minister Botha.

Minister Botha called on corporates that are interested in sponsoring these mobiles to contact him. “The Dischem Foundation has invested in the one Wellness Mobile in the Metro, but we need more sponsors to enable us to screen even more learners. This is an investment in the health and wellness of our future generation.”

The 10-year contract for this service was awarded to Mobile Satellite Technologies, a company that specialises in the provision of mobile clinic 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 also equipped with air-conditioning, a kitchenette and toilet facilities.

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