As COVID-19 stretches both South Africa and Great Britain and Ireland’s limited health resources, Rotarians in these isles have upped their already considerable efforts to assist South Africa’s needy with a range of medical equipment.
Milton Frary, a Rotarian who founded and runs the Wheelchair Foundation UK and who works closely with the UK-based company PhysioNet, reaffirmed the commitment to assisting people in South Africa.
He said: “We formed our charity in 2003 and our main focus is the delivery of a range of medical equipment, which we get from PhysioNet, to the needy.
“This includes brand new and refurbished wheelchairs and since 2003, more than 15 000 of these have been delivered to South Africa.”
Milton said the product range is continually expanding and now includes a full range of equipment to kit out care homes.
There is a scarcity of care across most indigent communities and South Africa’s elderly are some of the most neglected.
Good care facilities, with equipment sourced by PhysioNet, can help solve the problem.He said because of the ongoing work and the subsequent relationship building with South African Rotary clubs, particularly the Rotary Club of Gately in East London, the charity has had immense success in various projects throughout the country.
UK-based Rotarian Peter Thompson pointed out that since establishing the relationship with PhysioNet, Rotary had assisted in supporting the needs of the disabled in 27 countries and had recently focused much of its efforts on East London.
To date the foundation has distributed 97 consignments globally that contained a combined total of 47 000 items of medical equipment.
The first shipment to South Africa was in January 2008 and since then, Rotary clubs have received 21 shipments, valued at about 40 million Rand) (£1.95 million).
UK-based Rotarian Peter Thompson pointed out that since establishing the relationship with PhysioNet, Rotary had assisted in supporting the needs of the disabled in 27 countries and had recently focused much of its efforts on East London.”
Peter said that between the Wheelchair Foundation UK and South Africa they covered the shipping cost for four containers, two of them to ROMEX (Rotary Medical Exchange) that is based in East London.
“Expanding the range for quality mobility and medical equipment was essential,” added Milton, “as basic wheelchairs only scratch the surface of what is needed.
“Working with Gately Rotary, our intimate knowledge of the needs for the East London area has encouraged us to continue this support for the foreseeable future.”
President Gordon Thompson, of the Rotary Club of Gately, explained that the medical goods are distributed to people and organisations which cannot normally afford them.
While much of the equipment is new, the second-hand goods are in sound condition and still have years of life left.
Recently, the Gately club received a shipping container filled with medical beds, wheelchairs, baths, crutches, walking sticks, zimmer frames, stretchers and medical consumables.
Goods received from this partnership are stored in a warehouse that Gately funds before they are distributed to sick, frail and disabled members of society, at no cost.
Gately also facilitates the KFC-sponsored scheme that feeds 10 000 children at Early Childhood Centres, around the Eastern Cape.
- Article first published in Rotary Africa.