The mobile outreach programme in the outlying communities of Ebumnyameni (Donkerhoek) and Ocean View will soon be able to offer hearing screening from birth thanks to specialised equipment that was recently acquired. This is a service that will be done in conjunction with the visual screenings from six months of age, in a drive to pick up complications as early as possible and thereby avoid later more serious complications that affect quality of life and academics.
“Our mobile clinic plays a vital role in the communities and crèches by screening for Visual and Hearing deficiencies, with the purpose of preventing later complications like vision loss, deafness and subsequently learning difficulties and early school dropout or failure,” Lynette van Onselen, Director of the Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic.
Parents often don’t realise the importance of early screening as a tool to pick up hearing deficiencies from a very young age. Children’s speech, vocabulary and early learning is determined on their ability to hear. The earlier corrections can be made, with either hearing tools or surgery, the higher the chance is that the child will not lose crucial information. Similarly, the vision screening can pick up the major contributors of vision loss later in life.
“We can refer these little clients to Ophthalmologists for early correction, especially as early correction is not as invasive as late correction techniques,” added van Onselen.
Whilst the tests are very quick and stress free, both screenings are done with specialized machines. An estimated 1% to 2% of the population suffer from hearing loss. Amblyopia, which occurs in early childhood when nerve pathways between the brain and an eye aren’t properly stimulated, affects between 6% and 7%, but this can be much higher. Van Onselen tells of a recent school visit, where six of the ten children tested, required further assistance.
The Mobile Clinic is about taking the service to the community, with a focus on ‘Mom and Baby’, focusing on the first 1000 days of a baby’s life. Sister Jakkie and her colleagues also do home visits as part of the revitalization of Primary Health Care.
The funding from Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm supports the mobile clinic’s operational costs, the employment of a Nurse Assistant and a full-time Professional Nurse. “We believe that the HMBC plays an incredibly important role within our communities and are honoured to be able to assist in making their services available to the more remote areas in Jeffreys Bay. Furthermore, the Mobile Clinic is powered by clean, green renewable energy – the fitted solar panels power the fridge and electrical points making this initiative a perfect fit for our funding” explained Anna Letsoalo, Senior Economic Development Officer for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.
The HMBC was founded in 2002 due to an overwhelming need in the community for a specialized clinic that focused on improving the health of mothers and children. This non-profit organization is committed to delivering professional private care to the most vulnerable and underprivileged women of the Jeffreys Bay community, in partnership with the Department of Health and its various financial donors.