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A Mpumalanga church is offering free health services to the community to make up for staff shortages at clinics and hospitals caused by the public sector strike.
At least six doctors from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa have offered to provide health services to the community at Daantjie section of Pienaar Trust, near Nelspruit, on Sunday mornings.
The doctors will treat patients with the help of volunteer nurses from within the church.
The provincial health department has promised to provide a mobile clinic for the service.
Reverend Thembani Mayayise of the church's Nelspruit parish, said yesterday: "We were supposed to postpone the church's annual health service until later in the year, but now that many people are suffering because of the strike, we decided to have it right away."
He said they would start first with an hour-long church service at 9am, after which doctors and nurses would start treating the sick.
"The church will provide medication for the sick but those with chronic illnesses will be referred to the relevant institutions," said Mayayise.
The six doctors who have volunteered their services are Pat Godi, a gynaecologist, Naniki Motau, the church's health committee chairman, Bright Mabasa, William Mabunda, Isaac Shirinda and Ronnie Mnisi.
Mayayise said that when the church was founded on July 9 1875 it was founded on the three pillars of health, education and spiritual responsibility.
The church is also the founder of at least two famous missionary hospitals in South Africa - Elim Hospital, near Valdezia in Limpopo, and Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.
Mapulaneng Hospital was originally known as Masana Hospital.
Mayayise said the church was also making preparations for its Evangelical Presbyterian Church Day on July, when it would be celebrating 132 years of existence in South Africa.