root - March 12, 2024

Permanent Wellness Hub targets local health needs, but local activists are not appeased

Peter Luhanga 

After protests calling for improved medical care and the removal of the appointment booking system at the Dunoon Community Health Centre (CHC), a new Wellness Hub has been established at the Dunooncommunity hall. 

The Wellness Hub aims to ease the burden on the CHC by offering improved access to essential healthcare services for residents. 

The Dunoon CHC is situated two kilometres outside the township in Killarney Gardens, across from the Killarney International Raceway.  

In September last year, scores of residents marched to demand better services from the Dunoon CHC. According to residents, nurses at the clinic were allegedly instructing patients, including the critically ill, to either return at a later time or schedule appointments for a future date, GroundUp reported (, and Ilisolabantu later republished the story in its September month-end edition.

In response to the residents’ demands, the Western Cape Department of Health ran a pilot Wellness Hub at the Dunoon taxi rank in November last year. Subsequently, a permanent Wellness Hub was established at the municipal hall in the township on 13 February.

Three weeks after establishing the Wellness Hub in Dunoon, Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, with stakeholders, held an official launch on Tuesday, 5 March, and led a community walkabout, distributing more than 200 pamphlets to residents in the area to ensure they are aware of the services being offered on their doorstep. 

The Wellness Hub provides essential services, including family planning, screening for chronic diseases, child health services, and HIV and TB screening. These services are available from 09:00 to 12:00 every Tuesday to Thursday.

Western Cape Health and Wellness spokesperson, Luke Albert, stated the establishment of the Wellness Hub comes at a crucial time. The hub’s proximity to an ever-growing community, coupled with the increasing demand for healthcare services, is significant, said Albert. 

He  stated at the end of last year that the Dunoon CHC, on average, attended to 150 adult walk-in patients and 180 children (without appointments), 120 doctor’s appointments, and 100 family planning appointments per day. 

“Taking into account the high number of walk-in patients without an appointment, this resulted in longer waiting times. Furthermore, the location of the facility meant that residents often had to walk further to receive primary health care services,” he said.

He stated the launch of the Wellness Hub in a more centrally located area brings healthcare services closer to the community, ensuring patients can more easily access free wellness services and prioritise their health. 

He stated that this initiative is central to the department’s Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) policy, which aims to improve access to primary healthcare services, promote health education and introduce preventive measures within communities, as well as foster partnerships between healthcare providers and community organisations.

Dunoon CHC Facility Manager,Reuben Christoffels said he was very excited about working with his community health centre non-profit organisation partners to establish wellness services in the heart of the community.

“We understand that a patient’s health journey is important, and we want community members to feel empowered to make their own personal health journey a priority. By establishing the new wellness hub, we are ensuring that our community has the power and access to free wellness services closer to home. We thank our partners and our health care workers for making this initiative possible,” stated Christoffels. 

Community activist Thembelani Ndabezimbi, one of the leaders who led the march demanding better medical services at the Dunoon CHC in September last year, was surprised he was not aware of the establishment of the Wellness Hub at the Dunoon municipal hall, despite being aware of the pilot Wellness Hub operated at the Dunoon taxi rank. 

But Ndabezimbi said even with the pilot, people still complained the health services  were not sufficient.

“They ran a trial at the Dunoon taxi rank in November and December, but people still complained that they were not receiving adequate services. I suspect they are establishing a permanent Wellness Hub for campaign purposes, which is why they didn’t inform the people who organised the march to the CHC,” said Ndabezimbi.

Nonzuko Mukumela, secretary for Dunoon Women for Gender Equity, said when they marched to the CHC in September, the facility personnel told them they would have a meeting with the residents once a month, but this never happened.

Additionally, Mukumela said Mbombo’s launch of the Wellness Hub was not communicated with residents; she only became aware of it a day before the launch on 5 March.

She said the CHC still continued with its practice of turning away patients, including the critically ill, and asking them to schedule an appointment.

“We told them we don’t want the appointment system anymore. They don’t have to turn patients away. When you fall sick, you don’t book an appointment to fall sick. They need to attend to sick people and not turn them away to go make appointments. If there is a shortage of staff, they must employ more,” said Mukumela.

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