Limpopo Province, South Africa
"I hope my work and presence will live in the hearts of those I have touched through my nursing career—to move from generation to generation to continue the care and love I give every day," said Rosemary Kekana, a registered nurse for more than 20 years.
Kekana joined the women-run network of Unjani Clinics in 2018 to provide care to those caught between the gap of earning too much to qualify for government-assisted health care and those who cannot afford care. There are now over 120 nurses and more than 100 Unjani Clinics, in the network established in 2014 to empower Black women professional nurses and increase access to care in low-income communities.
Kekana, who owns Unjani Clinic Zebediela in South Africa's northeast province of Limpopo, is one of two nurses running mobile medical units donated to Unjani Clinics NPC through a Ford South Africa and Ford Motor Company Fund initiative.
Ford South Africa donated two Transit panel vans, and Ford Fund provided $76,000 USD/ ZAR 1.1 million to convert the vans into medical units, train the nurses and their assistants and cover additional costs to care for an estimated 2,750 people in rural regions. With support from village leaders, the mobile units move from village to village, providing those in need with essential medical care.
"Our people are struggling because health care is getting more expensive by the day. Those who are uninsured are left out. Unjani bridges the gap," she said. "We currently visit 20 villages in a week and average 20 people a day. The appreciation and acceptance is overwhelming.
"We are able to bring services close to the people who cannot afford to travel due to financial circumstances. Fifty percent of our patients are pensioners who have chronic conditions or who take care of grandchildren," Kekana said.
Inside the mobile units is an exam bed, chairs, storage to keep medication safe and cool, a handwashing basin and Wi-Fi to maintain electronic patient records. Services include family planning, prenatal care, HIV testing, basic health screenings, chronic condition management, wound care and more.
"I believe my work is making a difference in this country. We are decongesting our government facilities; hence, they can manage their patients better. And our clients are fulfilled."