US mission helps out in rural KZN

Health workers in KZN will receive
assistance from US specialists.
(Image: Ambulance)

MEDIA CONTACTS
Chris Maxon
Corporate Communication
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health
+27 83 285 0567

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Bongani Nkosi

About 50 US healthcare volunteers have arrived in KwaZulu-Natal to offer specialist services in some of the province’s disadvantaged rural areas.

The group, invited by the Seventh Day Adventist Students Association (SDASA), is here for a week to help out in communities such as uThungulu, Jozini and uMkhanyakudei in the far north of the province and other areas.

“They want to make a contribution to largely disadvantaged communities,” said Chris Maxon, spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, in an interview.

The team – which includes doctors, dentists, eye-care specialists, nurses, psychologists and physiotherapists – represents the United Hands Project, an NGO formed in 1995 that enables US healthcare professionals to travel abroad to offer free medical care to people in need.

Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal, will welcome the delegation on 26 July 2010 at a ceremony at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. The volunteers will take up their posts the following day and work with local practitioners in state clinics and other facilities run by the health department.

“They’ll be augmenting what the department is doing,” Maxon said. “They’ll be putting up tents and visiting our clinics.”

The aim of the week-long mission is to reach out to as many residents as possible, the department said. “Depending on conditions, in a community where a clinic is far away, they’ll come with a mobile clinic.”

‘Spreading the light’

Dhlomo said the volunteers will literally and figuratively enlighten some of KwaZulu-Natal’s rural areas, because they’ll assist community members with eyesight problems.

“The team of healthcare workers coming to the province will help those partially blind and awaiting cataract surgeries, to see more clearly,” said Dr Dhlomo in a statement.

“There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it,” he added. “They will really spread light in the rural communities of our province.”

Members of SDASA and local residents will also be involved in the project. The association’s Advocate Boyce Mkhize said they will run week-long awareness programmes to promote healthy lifestyles among the rural population.

They are hoping to draw many volunteers from the Seventh Day Adventist church and the community, Mkhize added.