BY: Nokuthula Khwela.

Pharmaceutical leader, Pfizer has contributed R11 million to help Unjani Clinics, a non-profit network of nurse-owned and run primary healthcare clinics serving rural and underprivileged regions across the country.

The initiative has already established over 150 clinics across the country, with a goal of establishing 600 or more clinics by December 2030. Each clinic is run as a private proprietorship or corporation by a trained nurse.

Pfizer will announce a new R11 million investment in Unjani Clinics on Nurses’ Day, May 12, 2023. This investment extends Pfizer’s seventh consecutive year of engagement. Since 2016, Pfizer has provided funding to the Unjani Clinic Network. Since then, the corporation has assisted in the funding of ten sonar equipment. and opened eight clinics in rural and urban areas, including Potchefstroom, Gqeberha, Sasolburg, and George.

Pfizer financing will help develop 9 more clinics in underserved regions throughout eight provinces in 2023: Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and North West. “As a result of opening more Unjani Clinics, many black women professional nurses will be empowered to own a Primary Health Clinic (PHC) as nurse-preneurs and provide much-needed alternative health delivery services to their communities,” says Kevin Francis, Pfizer’s Cluster Lead: SSA & Country Manager: South Africa.

Unjani Clinics CEO, Lynda Toussaint, says, “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 resulted in the initiative receiving two Gender Mainstreaming Awards in 2022: one that recognizes organizations that allow for the future empowerment of women-owned or managed businesses, and another that recognizes 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 are frequently the first line of healthcare for many people, and they can work within social constraints to offer necessary care, encouraging health and well-being for those who might otherwise be unable to receive good medical treatment.

They cannot, however, help everyone who needs it. The Unjani Clinics Network arose from this desire to bring healthcare to the people. A model that accurately portrays why nurses in South Africa will be honored this Nurses’ Day. “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 Kevin.

While numerous improvements to the healthcare system are required to ease the acute demand for quality medical treatment by all South Africans, Unjani Clinics have made an important contribution to reducing the severity of the situation. Furthermore Pfizer’s ongoing support for the initiative has helped to ensure that healthcare reaches the communities that need it the most.


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