A ground-breaking agreement has been signed between a global pharmaceutical company, two NGOs and a global tech social enterprise to improve healthcare in South Africa.
Initially targeted at the residents of communities in Orlando West, Soweto and Orange Farm, this partnership sees Bayer, Best Health Solutions, Vikelizizwe Solutions and reach52 collaborate to increase healthcare access by training and equipping Community Health Volunteers (CHVs).
The objective of this scalable model within these two communities is to improve basic health access to underserved residents in South Africa. Over 200 000 residents in these two areas will benefit from improved malnutrition-related health outcomes because of this partnership.
reach52 is a tech social enterprise that is enabling health services in regions where existing health systems, infrastructure, and internet connectivity is poor to non-existent.
CEO of reach52, Edward Booty, developed this platform to better understand the real needs of communities on the ground, enabling them to identify where the issues and opportunities are.
The aim of reach52 is to reach the 52% of the world who cannot access essential health services, a staggering 3.7 billion people. The organisation already supports global partners through teams in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Cambodia, Kenya and now South Africa. The partnership in Kenya, launched in November last year, has seen Bayer and reach52 empowering local women within the Homa Bay and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), to gather information on health needs, organise health services, and support referrals to doctors.
Through these initiatives globally, CHVs are trained and given access to ‘offline-first’ apps to provide health promotion and education, screening activities to identify cases of acute malnutrition, and referrals to healthcare professionals.
“When we are able to understand the community health needs better, we are able to work with government and partners on the ground to help them better support these communities. Through this technology and the Android application that we have built, we can go one step further and are able to work with the community health workers to target specific households with specific interventions”, says Booty, who was in Gauteng this week to launch this partnership.
Michael Meewes, Bayer’s Consumer Health Country Divisional Head for the South East Africa region (SEA) adds, “We are committed to continuously delivering on our mission – Health for All, Hunger for None – in the various communities we operate in. This project also allows us to make a lasting contribution in our core sustainability areas including women empowerment, fighting hunger and access to everyday health.”
Bayer Consumer Health will also be making relevant products within its nutritional portfolio available as part of this partnership, along with helping with nutrition education within these communities. In South Africa, malnutrition is the underlying cause of death in 50% of childhood deaths, with 30% of our children having little to no access to a healthy daily diet.
The Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in Orlando West and Orange Farm will be further upskilled to provide residents with information about combating malnutrition and action steps, referrals within the healthcare system based on malnutrition screening and follow up for at-risk patients. As a trusted partner in health, Bayer is committed to improving health access to affordable nutritional products and providing sustainable support through better trained health workers and screening and awareness events.