Explain what the "innovation" is about, e.g., is it the idea and/or the model you use to accomplish the idea, or your understanding of the target population, etc.?
In South Africa, issues of Workplace Health are well-addressed through legislative mechanisms. While it is improving, the monitoring of compliance with legislation has, unfortunately, been weak. At the same time, SA has, since 1994, subscribed to a free market approach to economic policy. The consequent deregulation of aspects of some industries and the lowering of entry barriers in others has seen a proliferation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), many of whom operate on the margins of the economy. Resource-constrained SMEs often perceive facilitating workers' access to health services as "an unaffordable luxury".
The Siyakhana Health Trust's innovative "SME Project" brings health services to workers in SMEs at a nominal cost to the company, at no cost to the individual, and with minimal disruption to production. Services are extended to family and dependents - these are accessed off-site, but also at no cost to the individual.
What began as an HIV/AIDS voluntary counselling and testing service has evolved into a fully-fledged workplace health service. The resultant service offering is unique in that it supports the government's objectives relating to worker health across multiple legislative, policy, and strategic domains. (These include, among others, the Labour Relations Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS and TB, WHO & ILO Health at Work conventions).
Our innovative approach aims to keep healthy workers at work in health-promoting workplaces.
Describe how your innovation model is distinct from any other organization in your field?
Our innovation model is distinct in 4 ways:
1) To our knowledge, there are no other citizen sector non-profits providing mobile occupational and general health services to SMEs
2) While there are a number of private sector service providers in the field, they tend to focus on either Occupational Health OR Primary Health Care OR HIV/AIDS. Siyakhana, by contrast, offers an holistic set of services ranging from general health screening to occupational health policy planning, on a not-for-profit basis.
3) Most service providers require workers to leave their workplace to attend off-site clinics. Siyakhana's mobile facility takes services to workplaces
4) No other service provider extends services to workers' dependents at no cost to the individual
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
The operating environment in which Siyakhana has located itself is influenced by a number of "streams", primarily legislative, economic, social, and health. In many ways, Siyakhana operates at the intersection of these "streams". A positive intersection exists right now since there is a growing realisation of the inextricable link between the health of workers, the profitability of the companies they work for, and the strength of the economy. The external environment is increasingly aware of the need for the services we offer.
Success depends on our agility in responding to varied needs of companies. We thus utilise a flexible staffing model that allows us to deploy expertise where and when necessary. Funding security influences the extent to which the innovation can be replicated.
How do you make sure you constantly innovate in light of (potential) external challenges, or your growth plan?
Having utilised a partnership delivery model from the outset has ensured that Siyakhana is always able to source and introduce cutting edge thinking and developments, via our funding and technical partners.
Open engagement with government has also ensured that we have contributed, not only responded, to changes in policy at a national, provincial and regional level.
At times when policies have proven to be a hindrance, rather than a facilitator, to our work, we have worked with communities to access innovative alternative services, such as our network of private sector general practitioners who deliver HIV/AIDS treatment.
Our mobile facility is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, requiring staff to be up-to-date with the latest screening techniques at all times.