The initiative has already set up around 150 clinics nationally, and the goal is to establish 600-plus clinics by December 2030. Each clinic is operated by a professional nurse as a sole proprietor or company.

On Nurses' Day (Friday, 12 May) Pfizer reiterated its commitment to bolstering its support for Unjani Clinics with a further R11-million investment. This investment will mark the continuation of Pfizer's seventh consecutive year of collaboration.

Pfizer says that it has supported the Unjani Clinic Network since 2016. Since then, the company has helped fund 10 sonar machines and established the right clinics in various rural and urban communities including:
  • Potchefstroom
  • Gqeberha
  • Sasolburg, and
  • George.

In 2023, the funding from Pfizer will help establish nine more clinics in underserved communities in eight provinces:
  1. Gauteng
  2. KwaZulu Natal
  3. the Western Cape
  4. the Northern Cape
  5. the Eastern Cape
  6. Mpumalanga
  7. Limpopo, and
  8. the North West province.

"As a result of opening more Unjani Clinics, many black women professional nurses will be empowered to own a Primary Health Clinic as nurse-preneurs and provide much-needed alternative health delivery services to their communities," says Kevin Francis, Pfizer's cluster lead: SSA and country manager: South Africa.

Unjani Clinics CEO, Lynda Toussaint, adds, "Initiatives like the Unjani Clinic Network are critical for helping us get closer to achieving universal health coverage. Pfizer’s contributions over the last seven years have been significant and have helped expand the network — bringing quality healthcare to more communities that desperately need it."

The success of the Unjani Clinics and the empowerment of black female nurses in the country also led to the initiative winning two Gender Mainstreaming Awards in 2022.

According to the clinic, one recognises organisations that allow for the future empowerment of women-owned or managed businesses, and another recognises sustainable initiatives around poverty alleviation for women and poor communities.

"The public healthcare system in South Africa is often overburdened and underfunded. Nurses play an integral role in attending to the healthcare needs of patients in rural areas. They have a profound knowledge of health issues, social challenges and resource limitations within communities; and as such, they are well-placed to build trust with patients," Francis adds.

Nurses often represent the first line of healthcare for many individuals and can work within social limitations to provide essential care, promoting health and well-being for those who might otherwise have no access to proper medical treatment.

However, they cannot assist all those who need it, according to Pfizer. It was this passion to take healthcare to the people that gave rise to the formation of the Unjani Clinics Network. 

"Further benefits of the clinics include providing permanent jobs, achieving systemic transformation within the healthcare system, and reducing the burden on the public health system. Pfizer is passionate and committed to continuing its support of this initiative and empowering women healthcare providers," concludes Francis.

While many improvements to the healthcare system need to be made to alleviate the dire need for quality medical care by all South Africans, Unjani Clinics have made a vital contribution to reducing the severity of the problem, according to the pharmaceutical brand.

Pfizer’s continued support to the initiative has contributed to making it sustainable for healthcare to reach those communities who need it most.

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