Western Cape Ministers of Education and Health Visit School Wellness mobile at Yomelela Primary School in Khayelitsha

29 January 2019

Joint Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education
and Minister Nomafrench Mbombo, Minister of Health

Today, Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and Western Cape Minister of Education, Ms Debbie Schäfer visited the Wellness mobile for school health at Yomelela Primary School in Khayelitsha where Gr R - Grade 1 learners at the school received dental screenings.

The School Wellness Mobile Project is a successful collaboration with the private sector. This flagship project of the Western Cape Government was rolled out in 2014 as a transversal strategy by the Departments of Health and Education, putting life into the Integrated School Health Programme.

The Western Cape Government is extremely pleased that this project has reached so many deserving learners throughout the Metro, and in the rural districts.

The health mobiles have been instrumental in taking primary healthcare to children in 'hard-to-reach-areas' of this province. It has assisted us in ensuring that no child goes through school without having had the necessary screenings.

By focusing on children's health, the Western Cape Government has made the strategic decision to prevent illness, uplift communities, and empower youths with the tools they need to succeed in school and life beyond the classroom.

"The Western Cape Government is committed to providing quality healthcare services to the entire population in the Western Cape. The focus is on prevention and promotion of wellness rather than the curative. This project is playing such a key role in particularly poor and rural areas, screening learners for conditions that require the necessary intervention" said Mbombo.

Since the start of the service, we have conducted over 3000 school visits in the metro and rural districts with over 400 000 learners having benefitted from treatment at these mobile clinics.

Each Wellness Mobile for School Health includes:

  • a consultation room where general health screening can be performed. This includes a physical assessment, assessment of gross motor skills, height and weight, ear, nose and throat examination, screening for TB symptoms and other psycho-social issues.
  • a dental unit section for screening for oral health and rendering of dental and oral hygiene services; and
  • an optometry unit, for the testing of eyesight in order to provide learners with spectacles if needed.
  • These units were selected to be included in the Wellness Mobiles after it was found that many young learners living in poor areas did not have access to these health services. The advantage of this one-stop health service is that learners who are identified as needing spectacles and dental care, will now be attended to on the spot.

We are also focusing on schools situated in areas where it is most challenging for parents to access dentists and optometrists. We believe that ensuring poor learners have proper access to health services, including spectacles and dental care, will also have a positive effect on education outcomes in the province.

"A healthy learner is more likely to succeed than a learner who experiences challenges with their health. As the Education Department, our key task is to ensure literate and numerate learners in the formative years. Investment from Government and the private sector into these wellness mobiles is much bigger than only the healthcare of our children; it is also an investment into their education, and ultimately their future. This service also creates awareness of the importance of health beyond the school environment through to families and communities", said Minister Schäfer