Johannesburg – Pharmaceutical and biotechnology giant, Pfizer, has pledged R11-million to boost the expansion of Unjani Clinics – a non-profit network of nurse-owned and operated primary healthcare clinics that serve rural and underserved communities across South Africa.
The initiative has already set up around 150 clinics nationally, and the goal is to establish 600-plus clinics by December 2030.
Each clinic is operated by a professional nurse as a sole proprietor or company.
On Nurses’ Day, Friday 12 May 2023, Pfizer said it will reiterate its commitment to bolstering its support for Unjani Clinics with a further R11 million investment.
This investment will mark the continuation of Pfizer’s seventh consecutive year of the collaboration.
Pfizer has supported the Unjani Clinic Network since 2016.
Since then, the company has helped fund 10 sonar machines and established 8 clinics in various rural and urban communities including Potchefstroom, Gqeberha, Sasolburg and George.
This year, the funding from Pfizer will help establish nine more clinics in underserved communities in eight provinces – Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and the North West province.
“As a result of opening more Unjani Clinics, many black women professional nurses will be empowered to own a Primary Health Clinic (PHC) as nurse-preneurs and provide much-needed alternative health delivery services to their communities,” says Kevin Francis, Pfizer’s Cluster Lead: SSA & Country Manager: South Africa.
Unjani Clinics CEO, Lynda Toussaint, says, “Initiatives like the Unjani Clinic Network are critical for helping us get closer to achieving universal health coverage.
“Pfizer’s contributions over the last seven years have been significant and have helped expand the network – bringing quality healthcare to more communities that desperately need it.”
The success of the Unjani Clinics and the empowerment of black female nurses in the country also led to the initiative winning two Gender Mainstreaming Awards in 2022.
One award recognises organisations that allow for the future empowerment of women-owned or managed businesses, and the other recognises sustainable initiatives around poverty alleviation for women and poor communities.
“The public healthcare system in South Africa is often overburdened and underfunded. Nurses play an integral role in attending to the healthcare needs of patients in rural areas,” says Francis.
“They have a profound knowledge of health issues, social challenges and resource limitations within communities; and as such, they are well-placed to build trust with patients.”
Nurses often represent the first line of healthcare for many individuals and can work within social limitations to provide essential care, promoting health and well-being for those who might otherwise have no access to proper medical treatment.
However, they cannot assist all those who need it. It was this passion to take healthcare to the people that gave rise to the formation of the Unjani Clinics Network.
A model that aptly reflects why nurses across South Africa will be celebrated on Nurses’ Day this year.
“Further benefits of the clinics include providing permanent jobs, achieving systemic transformation within the healthcare system, and reducing the burden on the public health system,” says Kevin.
“Pfizer is passionate and committed to continuing its support of this initiative and empowering women healthcare providers.”
While many improvements to the healthcare system need to be made to alleviate the dire need for quality medical care by all South Africans, Unjani Clinics have made a vital contribution to reducing the severity of the problem.
And Pfizer’s continued support of the initiative has contributed to making it sustainable for healthcare to reach those communities who need it most.