To celebrate their 75th anniversary, the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) are undertaking a 750 km journey to health in the Western Cape from 3 to 7 May. They will be targeting 750 adults, particularly women, and children.
Continuing the theme of giving that has been a leitmotif for 75 years, SHAWCO Health are taking their student-led mobile clinics on a five-day journey to provide essential health services to the province’s needy and underserved communities. Forty students will be assisted by community members and volunteer health workers.
They will provide robust screening (for HIV, tuberculosis, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, cervical cancer, breast examination, and so on), paediatric screening, vaccinations, testing and assessment, diagnosis, referrals, medication prescriptions, health education and the provision of other resources.
One of their aims is to provide “safe centres”, which they hope will operate as referral and information provision centres for all members of the communities that they visit.
They make their way first to the Clanwilliam farming district and will then go on to Rawsonville, Swellendam and Zoar, camping along the route in the evenings.
Calling individuals and corporates
The 750 Kilometres for SHAWCO campaign is calling for partners, either individuals or corporates, to join them “every step of the way” by sponsoring a kilometre of their trip for R150. Each kilometre cost equates to one patient’s complete healthcare package as well as community health worker upskilling and the inauguration of clinical referral and resource centres in the communities they visit.
The healthcare journey is part of a broader birthday fundraising campaign to support SHAWCOʼs health and education efforts. To this end, they have called on the UCT community and the public to make donations of R75, R750, R7 500, R750 000 or more.
The fundraising drive will run until the end of December this year, and the aim is to raise R75 million, says SHAWCO director Gavin Joachims.
Students serving community
The organisation was founded in July 1945 by UCT medical student Andrew Kinnear and began life with a single primary healthcare clinic.
With a vision to promote an informed, healthy and thriving community, SHAWCO now leads health, education and social entrepreneurship initiatives through two main service sectors: SHAWCO Education and SHAWCO Health, with 1 228 and 897 registered student volunteers respectively.
SHAWCO Health is the Faculty of Health Sciencesʼ branch of the wider student-based NGO and provides comprehensive primary healthcare through its mobile clinics. The clinics have the dual function of educating and mentoring UCT’s medical students in appropriate, needs-based clinical work.
SHAWCO Health also assists in disaster relief, women’s healthcare (at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, which offers development and welfare programmes to the city’s migrant and local communities), as well as free HIV and AIDS screenings, Pap smears and rehabilitation for addicts.
All funds raised in celebration of SHAWCO’s 75th anniversary will be ploughed back into their health and education initiatives.
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