To celebrate 67 minutes of selfless act of humanity on Mandela Day, AgriAids SA is recognising that for agriculture sector to guarantee food security, a healthy workforce is needed. This is particularly difficult and labour intensive task to achieve. Farmworkers and farming communities remain highly susceptible to HIV infection. Prevalence level in this HIV/AIDS reduction strategy key population is twice that of the general population. To address this challenge, AgriAids SA will open Somerhoek Wellness Centre on Mandela Day.
Somerhoek Wellness Centre is situated at Somerhoek Packhouse in Marble Hall area (Ephraim Mogale Municipality) of Limpopo. The clinic is part of AgriAids SA’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) health delivery model. In this instance, Somerhoek Boerdery refurbished an old building, Department of Health will provide medication and consumables. AgriAids SA will employ clinical and administrative personnel. They include registered and dispending nurse and trained counsellors. The facility will operate 08:00 – 16:00 Monday to Friday.
“When we approach farmers to negotiate access to their premises, we emphasise that a healthy worker equals healthy production. Our value proposition to them is that the time they invest through releasing their workers to be tested has a cost benefit. They are likely to achieve and exceed production targets with a healthy group of employees”, explains Ms Monene Mamabolo, the Chief Executive Officer of AgriAids SA. Mamabolo elaborates that Somerhoek is not the first PPP model deliverable. Two such facilities are operational in Ehlanzeni District of Mpumalanga. A clinic the organisation previously managed through PPP model in Vhembe district of Limpopo was absorbed by the Department of Health. “You can say we guided and worked hand-in-globe with the Department of Health to ensure that where services were lacking, that gap is adequately filled”, Mamabolo adds.
Hendri Solomon, the Project Manager for Social Development at Somerhoek Boerdery, is upbeat about the impact this clinic will have on the company’s workforce, their families as well as surrounding farms. “To us as a commercial citrus farm, AgriAids SA is godsend. Our employees are looking forward to the grand opening of this facility. They have expressed interest in using the services offered by this facility and are particularly excited about the prospect of accessing health service at their door step.” Solomon says Somerhoek has about 500 workers during peak season. They will be joined by surrounding farms employees to access HIV/AIDS and primary health care services at this health care facility.
AgriAids SA also uses an outreach model to visit farming communities and farmworkers at their employment premises. The employees are offered counselling, testing, referral, and care and support. Mamabolo emphasises that the primary reason for this bouquet of services is to ensure that no employee is lost through the cracks. Those needing urgent medical attention are referred to hospitals. “In testing employees for HIV/AIDS, we are aware that this virus is a catalyst for comprehensive healthcare. We also test employees for non-communicable diseases. We believe that knowledge is power and will enable healthy life.”
Besides primary healthcare services to be offered to the 300 employees and their families, there will HIV counselling and testing (HCT). 700 screenings will be conducted for two common non-communicable diseases (NCDs), namely diabetes and hypertension. 200 women will be offered pap smear tests. 100 clients will be referred for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). All the services will be offered in conjunction with Limpopo Department of Health (Sekhukhune District).