IT was when her own child fell ill at school that Agnes Pholose had a brainwave that was to become her business – a business which can mean the difference between life or death for a little one.
And importantly, it also highlights the need for more efficient health services in townships.
Pholose is the owner of Tshepohope Consulting based in Diepsloot, Johannesburg and offers a transport service, where she arranges to transport preschool and creche-going children to the clinic should they fall ill while at school and the parent/s are unable to take the child themselves.
“My own daughter fell sick while at pre-school one day. The school tried to call me and couldn’t get hold of me. Eventually they ended up contacting my mother. After that it was always on my mind to create a service for parents where a child can be transported to a clinic for medical assistance, without having to wait until the parents arrive to collect their child at the end of the school day.
“One of the most common causes of illness among small children is diarrhoea, where they lose water and become dehydrated very quickly. Children can die waiting for their parents to come and pick them up. Some parents also do not have money, or it is late when they pick a child up and so will wait until the next day to take the child to the clinic,” said Pholose.
She spoke to a local principal who welcomed her offered service which came into being in March 2017.
“I was also invited to parents’ meetings where I explained what my service was all about. I also talked to the clinic and explained what was going on and they agreed to work with me,” she said, adding that not only does she take an ill child to the clinic but also returns the little one to the school. She works closely with a private clinic where the children are taken for treatment.
“I work with an Uber driver who is always on standby for my service. When we have an emergency, I will go with him and we pick up the child and go to the clinic. Normally the school contacts me, but sometimes it can be a worried parent,
“Once the child has been checked and given medication, we take him or her back to the daycare,” she said.
She said while the hot summer months are quiet, once the change in season arrives and cold weather starts setting in around April and May, she has a lot more calls.
A mother of three children, Pholose said the reward in her business is to see a child recovering because they received quick and efficient treatment.
“I feel great when I see a child who has recovered quickly. I like children and make sure I spend time at the schools so I am a familiar face to them, so when I have to take them to the clinic, they will feel comfortable with me,” she said.
“There is a shortage of clinics and there are always long queues at government clinics.
“I use a private clinic and I have a good relationship with them there. If I am on my way, I normally give them a call to let them know. There may still be a queue, but they know me and will give priority to my small patients,” she added.
Pholose said the Covid-19 pandemic had a terrible impact on her business, which has started to pick up but as schools are about to close, she is looking to the 2021 school year to try and get back to business as usual.
“With the schools closed and many parents losing their jobs, we were very badly affected. I’m hoping that next year, we will pick up our numbers again. I would also like to expand into other areas and ideally I would really like to have my own clinic,” she said.