15 November 2013

Owethu – SA's first fully-serviced modular medical clinic

Cipla Medpro has announced the launch of Owethu – South Africa’s first fully-serviced modular medical clinic.

The Cipla Foundation, the social enterprise division of leading pharmaceutical company, Cipla Medpro, last night announced the launch of Owethu – South Africa’s first fully-serviced modular medical clinic. The concept, which has been in development for four years, signals a new era in the South African primary healthcare sector, as the clinic will act as a support service to the currently under-resourced and burdened healthcare system in the country. 

First-of-its-kind initiative

According to David Grier, managing trustee of the Cipla Foundation, this first-of-its-kind initiative will provide South African communities with access to quality medical and dental care and in some cases, oncology treatment as well as basic healthcare education. “Owethu, meaning ‘ours’ allows us to address ‘our health, our life’, and is dedicated to assisting and improving the delivery and access of primary healthcare in communities, and by doing so, lessening the burden on South Africa’s public healthcare system.

“The clinic is made of modular pods and can be deployed anywhere. This is a breakthrough in the development of sustainable healthcare solutions to communities in need, especially as its scale and state-of-the-art facilities has been developed with community healthcare in mind. The clinic has been developed in a manner allowing the pods to be re-deployed within a community should this be needed,” says Grier.

The project is being launched in partnership with NGO, The Pebbles Project, and the pilot Owethu primary healthcare clinic will be stationed at Villiera wine farm in the Western Cape, providing the local farming community with accessible and affordable primary healthcare. Grier explains that the pilot unit is currently in a closed-testing phase, and its doors will officially be opened to the farming community in January 2014. “We are already in the planning phase for the next unit, which will be deployed in KwaZulu-Natal, a step to ensure that Owethu is rolled-out nationally.”

Major resource assistance

Grier explains that the Cipla Foundation, through its various projects, works with existing NGOs which already have a presence in certain communities which have been identified as having a specific need for healthcare services. “This way we ensure that the community is involved and invested in a project’s sustainability while the Cipla Foundation oversees the roll-out of the entire project.”

Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla Medpro, says that South Africa’s primary healthcare system is in need of major resource assistance, and this initiative aims to build relationships with these communities by bringing affordable medicine to those most in need.  “This is an initiative that will change the primary healthcare industry in the country, and possibly even on the continent. We therefore encourage corporate South Africa to get involved alongside Cipla Medpro in this pioneering initiative, and thereby, assist in closing this gap present in most communities.

“The fact that the unit makes use of interlocking pods means that it can be deployed anywhere, whether in rural South Africa, or anywhere in Africa. It makes use of an entire sophisticated turnkey solution, and can exist independently in a self-sustainable manner.”

The cost of the clinic’s development is R2.2 million with the funding model making provision for corporations to subsidise the medical costs of their staff. Grier explains that all medical treatment will be affordable to those in the communities and cost less than that of private healthcare.

For more information on Owethu or to get involved in this project, please visit




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