Dr Paulo de Valdoleiros, also known as the Walk-In Doctor, has created a massive (and important) online conversation after opening his medical practice in Westdene in Bloemfontein on the 17 June 2019.
His practice… and the idea to offer his services are not what is making waves but rather the fact that he is asking patients to pay what they can afford!
“Basically, the concept was I can take care of anybody — you pay what you can afford. So, I see the patient; I examine if necessary. We give out basic medication, and by basic medication, I mean the type of medicine that has been around for about 40 years, so it is relatively cheap. So a little session of antibiotics costs us around R20 to R25.
We don’t charge for any of this. I see the patient; I give them medication if necessary. You then go to the reception, and you decide your fee. The staff are trained not to tell you what it is or what it isn’t because we don’t have a set fee. It’s what you decide, what you can afford — it’s between you and your conscience.
In a sense, I’m getting people to make decisions they have never had to make. I feel that just because you don’t have money shouldn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to see a doctor,” he said in a telephonic interview with Gateway News.
De Valdoleiros explained to Bloemfontein Courant that no bookings are necessary, as they work on a first come, first serve basis, but patients are welcome to call first if they would like. He says that his sole interest is in primary healthcare and providing for day-to-day health and medical needs, and teaching people to take better care of their bodies to live healthier longer lives.
“There are so many people who really need help but cannot afford it,” said de Valdoleiros.
De Valdoleiros moved to South Africa from Mozambique when he was just 14 years old but had always had a dream of helping people. Unfortunately, he simply could not afford medical school as his family were quite poor so opted to start working as soon as he was done with school.
It was at the age of 46 where the determined Good Samaritan managed to enrol in medical school at the University of Free State and finally graduated at 51. Speaking to Gateway News, he explained that he later did another study in functional medicine (which is a speciality in the USA but is not taught in South Africa). He is also a regular guest on the health-product-oriented Real Health Show on the Home Channel on DSTV.
“I believe that medicine is my calling, it’s something that you’re born for, and I have always wanted to do this. We all chase money, but I’m tired of chasing money, I don’t want to be the boss and be in charge, I just want to do what I like to do, and that is help people,” he said to the Bloemfontein Courant.
De Valdoleiros said several people had asked him about the risk of people abusing the opportunity he provided. He responded that there is nothing to abuse as there is no system, as there is no minimum.
He also explained that he is not contracted to any medical aids as this would defeat the purpose of the practice.

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