Primary Healthcare

The importance of primary healthcare is increasingly recognised on international, national, regional and local levels.

Despite this emphasis and the best efforts of the public primary health system in South Africa, many of South Africa's poor and marginalised communities receive services that are often not sufficient, efficient or effective.

In many cases, these communities are not knowledgeable about or proactive when it comes to their own health and well-being. They are generally unable to access provate healthcare, due to the relatively high costs involved, and don't know how to access public health services.

Compounding these problems is the fact that once qualified many medical and health sciences students lack the proficiency, experience, confidence and good interpersonal skills required to speedily and effectively undertake their work and take up leadership positions.

In response to these challenges, Matie Community Services started the Primary Healthcare Programme. The programme is currently

  • Providing basic clinic services to communities, including preventative screenings, by making the services of three qualified doctors, five nurses and one pharmacy assistant available to them.
  • Providing training to 120 student volunteers (supervised medical, dietetics, occupational therapy and physiotherapy students), in addition to their medical and health sciences training, so that they can acquire the skills needed to effectively support the project and fast-track their professional development
  • Promoting a holistic, integrated and patient-orientated approach to primary healthcare by, amongst others, providing the services of not only medical students but also student dieticians, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
  • Creating on-site leadership opportunities for students and providing them with additional leadership training.
  • Working in partnership with project stakeholders e.g. local police, local public sector medical staff and community volunteers to render an effective service to communities
  • Developing 20 community volunteers to facilitate community involvement in the project e.g. by informing people about clinics and encouraging them to attend, and undertake community-based health promotion and education
  • Raising awareness amongst community members around the importance of looking after your own health, the fact that (public) healthcare is accessible and affordable, the signs and symptoms of illnesses, the importance of seeking medical help and becoming part of the decision-making process surrounding your own healthcare


The programme contributes to personal and community improvement by helping to improve the primary healthcare sector in South Africa. It does this by improving community access to health services and by helping medical and health sciences students to become better healthcare service providers.


The programme focuses on:

  • Providing a comprehensive after hour's primary healthcare service to theree communities in the Western Cape, namely, Franschoek, Kalkfontein and Villiersdorp where approximately 1400 clients with limited access to healthcare are being serviced
  • Undertaking health promotion and education in these communities
  • Supporting the professional development of Stellenbosch University medical and health sciences students


Avril Whate

021 938 9310

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