We recently hosted our Annual Network Conference from 17 to 19 November 2022, with Unjani Clinic Nurses travelling from all across the country to the Southern Sun Montecasino in Gauteng. Every year, this event plays a crucial role in bringing all our nurses together, building connections, sharing strategies, and – most importantly of all – investing in our Nurses’ professional development through education and training.
The jam-packed agenda saw 3 full days in which crucial topics were unpacked, including presentations and discussions on market research, Unjani brand and marketing strategies, HIV, nutrition, GBV, new and innovative service offerings, and so much more.
We were fortunate to be treated to compelling educational presentations from various industry experts and companies, tackling a wide range of important health and wellness topics and keeping our Nurses up-to-date on the latest advances in healthcare.
Unjani Clinic CEO Lynda Toussaint opened the conference with a macro level overview of the NPC and Network Strategy for the years ahead. This strategy sees a focus on market growth, the continued impact that our clinics are set to make at a community level, and the success of our efforts to scale the Unjani Clinic model in order to achieve over 500 clinics by 2030.
As part of the conference’s educational mission, Dr KD Mohamed delivered a powerful presentation on the prevention and treatment of HIV through ARVs, with insights backed by her 30+ years as a doctor and 12 years of HIV specialisation. Our Nurses were also given a talk by the founder of the non-profit OnPoint Foundation, Boitumelo Ntsoane. Boitumelo launched SOAR (Support Onhand After Rape), which provides vital services to rape survivors such as post-exposure prophylactic treatment against HIV/AIDS and pregnancy.
Given the constant exposure of our Nurses to illness and occasional suffering, the Unjani Clinic management team decided to give our Nurses some tools to help them cope with the many stresses they face. After all, they are not just Nurses, but also entrepreneurs, wives and mothers, and looking after their mental health is essential for their wellbeing, as well as to ensure that they are able to continue providing the best in empathetic care to each and every patient. To this end, we arranged for Dr Sharon Govender to share the typical signs of prolonged stress and how to deal with them. We are very grateful for Dr Govender for sharing her time and insights.
But it wasn’t just the Unjani Clinic team that made the conference such a success – our partners and sponsors provided invaluable support and education throughout the event.
We would like to thank Nestlé for both sponsoring our event and delivering a meaningful and eye-opening presentation. Nestlé Infant Nutrition’s Medical and Scientific Affairs Manager, Santa Dorfling, delivered a riveting presentation on undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, the causes of malnutrition, and Nestlé’s initiatives to support the prevention of malnutrition and deficiencies.
Air Liquide, VitalAire and Access Oxygen also provided excellent support during our conference. We’d like to extend a special thank you to Gregory Calviac, Vice President for the Healthcare Africa Cluster, Natasha Naidoo, VitalAire Managing Director, Zakiyya Mather, VitalAire Operations Excellence Manager, and Nora Khattab, Air Liquide (Access Oxygen) Project Director, for spending time with us at our conference. We appreciated the education of our Nurses on recent achievements and future opportunities that will be extended to our network through Air Liquide’s innovative work.
Last but definitely not least, we are extremely grateful to Imperial Logistics for their continued support. Their belief in our vision, along with their financial support and partnership, consistently enables our network to drive improved access to primary healthcare in the communities of South Africa that need it most.
Beyond growing our clinic network, we are also constantly pursuing new ways to innovate our service offering and business model. We are busy developing a new back-end management system and an app for patients, integrating business operations and processes to drive closer connection to and improved service levels for our patients, and the conference gave us a great opportunity to share more details with our Nurses.
We were further able to outline the success of our recent pilot programmes, which are currently being trialled at select Unjani Clinics:
These pilot programmes are performing exceptionally well, and we are already looking to expand our services through further pilots in the near future. These are expected to include breast screening utilising AI technology, a mobile cardiac screening system, and the introduction of mental health counselling throughout the clinic network.
The conference wasn’t all education and strategy though; we made sure to recognise the achievements of our Nurses, saying farewell to a long-standing Nurse, awarding impressive performance in various categories, and congratulating our newly graduated Nurse Owner Operators.
Nomsa Zazayokwe, fondly known as Ma Nomsa, is the owner and operator of Unjani Clinic Villa Lisa and Unjani Clinic Vosloorus. She has been with Unjani Clinic since our humble beginnings, being one of the first Nurses to join our network as a Nurse Owner Operator, and she celebrated 10 years in operation this year.
Ma Nomsa is retiring at the end of this year, and our conference saw an emotional tribute to her incredible achievements. Clinics from each province honoured her contribution and recognised her for carving a path for all Clinic Nurses to follow. From all of us at Unjani Clinic, we thank her for everything she has done, and wish her a happy and peaceful retirement.
At Unjani Clinic, we love celebrating the success of our clinics, and our recognition awards are designed to do just that. The Umphumeleli Award for the highest average number of patients went to Hammanskraal; the Ndiza Award, recognising the clinic with the highest year-on-year growth, went to Monsterlus; and our Kirkwood clinic snagged the Umfiki Award for the best new clinic.
We were also extremely proud to honour some outstanding achievements from several clinics, with 5 clinics attaining over 20 000 consultations in a single year, and 4 of our clinics reaching the 100 000 consultations milestone in 2023.
The conference ended on a high note with our Annual Graduate Celebration Dinner, with 12 graduations in 2023 alone. These 12 Nurses have successfully operated their clinics for 5 years, and have officially been named as the Owner Operators of their respective clinics.
We are so proud of each and every one of you, and we could not be happier to have you as part of our network.
A big thank you to all our Nurses, presenters, sponsors, and everyone else who made our Annual Clinic Network Conference possible. We look forward to continuing to expand access to quality, affordable private healthcare in South Africa for many more years to come.