The Starfish Wellness Wagon provided check-ups to 3,265 vulnerable children in rural communities in KwaZulu Natal in 2015. The nurse tests children for HIV and TB as well as monitoring eyesight, hearing, oral hygiene and mineral deficiencies. A staggering 67% of children seen by the Wellness Wagon nurse were referred for follow up treatment.
Thandanani hosted a focus group with caregivers who wanted to share their stories and the positive impact the clinic has had on the health of their children. The service was being delivered in a squatter camp with no running water, electricity or sanitation. One of the people who shared their story was 18 month old Matoma's Grandma. Matoma's mother had died suddenly when she was just one month old. She knew the child needed to be tested for HIV, but she simply couldn't afford the transport costs to get to the closest clinic and was too unwell to walk that far.
It had been worrying her terribly and she was so relieved when the Wellness Wagon nurse was able to test Matoma and reassure her, as well as checking that her immunisations were up to date. There is a real sense that the service brings hope to isolated communities and it is universally welcomed by the communities it serves.