Witsies work alongside healthcare professionals who treat patients free of charge

Members of the Lenasia community south of Johannesburg who cannot afford medical aid were screened for diseases by Wits students at Tiba Services for the Blind on Sunday, April 14.

The 15 students from the Faculty of Health Sciences worked alongside healthcare professionals to test people for HIV/Aids and to measure their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

Screenings were also performed for eye and dental, speech and hearing, and occupational therapy to patients ranging from young children to the elderly.

Faranaaz Waja, the centre manager of Tiba, told Wits Vuvuzela that the clinic wanted to provide access to members who could not afford medical care. She said that they had been instrumental in “prevention and enhancement of healthcare services”.

A third-year Medicine student, Firdous Hamid, assisted in administering pap smears to women to check for cervical cancer. “They’re fine with the doctors being there, but one lady was a bit shy that I was there. After they knew I was a medical student, they became quite comfortable,” Hamid said.

Dolly Kullen, a patient at the clinic, told Wits Vuvuzela that she had had a “wonderful experience”. She had initially come to have her eyesight tested but was told to test for blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol.

“We, as patients, are also benefiting because now I can see a doctor without having to be charged a cent. There are so many people who are unemployed in our area, so it is a great privilege to us,” said Kullen.

Skye Martin, a fourth-year Speech Therapy and Audiology student who was volunteering on the day said that students “do everything they can” to fulfill the compulsory community hours stipulated by their school.

Students are expected to fulfill ‘contact hours’ by giving therapy to patients or conducting screenings, as well as ‘observation hours’ where they watch professionals test patients.

“It has been a very hectic and very busy today. We are trying to get everyone done,” she said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Skye Martin, a Speech Therapy and Audiology student, screens Mohamed Ismail Otto, a patient at Tiba, for hearing. Photo: Imaan Moosa