Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre has seen a 6.1% increase in overall patient numbers since they announced their no-fee policy for first time visitors last year. In 2018 alone, the centre conducted over 107 000 patient consultations, issued 53 726 prescriptions and dispensed 200 584 medicinal items. With the number of new patients on the rise, the Centre has launched a new pharmacy building to manage high demand.
The launch event, held on 27 March, was attended by the City of Johannesburg Member of Mayoral Committee responsible for Health and Social Development, Dr Mpho Phalatse and Head of Corporate Stability at the Discovery Fund, Ruth Lewin.
The double-storey building boasts a training room for pharmacy assistants and other medical cadres, as well as a dispensary. “The new building gives us the resources to ensure that all our patients receive efficient service and are supplied with the treatment they need. This wouldn’t have been possible without our partnership with the Discovery Fund,” Executive Director of Witkoppen Centre, Dr Jean Bassett said.
South Africa has experienced a growing need for adequately trained pharmacists. Currently there is a significant skills shortage in the industry, with the country needing at least 12 000 pharmacists to meet demand.
“There is a dire need for qualified pharmacy assistants. Through our on-site programme, assistants will receive practical training and mentoring,” said Bassett. “All of our newly trained assistants will be registered with the Pharmacy Council as Pharmacy Assistant Post Basics and will be able to dispense medication per regulations once they have gone through our programme.”
The Centre has partnered with Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) for the past 25 years. During this time, they have initiated and managed patients on antiretroviral treatment, trained and mentored pharmacy assistants and expanded their public works programme cadres.
Established over 70 years ago, Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre services over 8 500 patients each month and an average of 425 patients every work day. Committed to providing affordable and comprehensive healthcare to patients living in the informal settlements of Diepsloot, Kyasands, Msawawa, Lion Park and surrounding areas, they offer first time patients a free first visit.