On Wednesday, 27 March 2019, TB HIV Care’s Correctional Services Programme (CSP) team was invited to attend the annual Pollsmoor boxing tournament. The boxing tournament, which was held at the Remand Detention Facility, marked World TB Day (24 March) – and formed the backdrop for an appreciation ceremony for TB HIV Care’s HAST Counsellors (who left Pollsmoor at the conclusion of the current grant).
The boxing tournament is an exciting event on Pollsmoor’s calendar. It brings together members of the official Pollsmoor boxing club as well as boxing clubs from the Drakenstein Management Area and the Bonnytoun Child and Youth Care Centre.
The tournament is supported by official referees, enjoys corporate sponsorship and was covered by Zibonele FM and Open News. The boxers, who were enthusiastically supported (and loudly cheered), gave it their all in the boxing ring! The eventual winners were the team from Bonnytoun.
Before concluding the boxing activity for the day, Sister Nomawabo Notshe called all HAST Counsellors into the boxing ring and presented them with an appreciation certificate to express, on behalf of the Department of Correctional Services, their thanks for the Counsellors’ services, and the value and support they have shown to the Management Area over the past few years.
It was such a fun day. Thanks so much to everyone involved!
Last night (Sunday, 24 March), St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town was lit up in red to mark World TB Day 2019.
It was part of the Stop TB Partnership’s international campaign to shine a spotlight on tuberculosis: Light up the World in Red to End TB.
St George’s Cathedral was chosen as a symbol of this year’s campaign because South Africa has adopted the “It’s Time” theme, but adapted it to say:
It’s time…for religious leaders, parliamentarians and legislators to lead the fight to end TB in South Africa
This theme was chosen in recognition of the role of faith-based leaders as powerful influencers in South Africa. It is hoped that they can contribute in at least two ways:
- By exemplifying the principles of acceptance and inclusion that underpin most faiths and welcoming and supporting those affected by TB, thereby combatting stigma associated with the disease; and
- By contacting their local clinics to invite them to perform health screenings in their congregations.
Earlier in the day, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, together with the National Assembly Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete, joined the Anglican Archbishop, Thabo Makgoba and other faith-based leaders, parliamentarians, civil society and TB ambassadors at a special 09h30 service at St George’s Cathedral dedicated to those affected by TB in South Africa.
On Tuesday, 05 March, TB HIV Care (THC) received a notification of award for an exciting new community project to be implemented in the Eastern Cape from 01 April 2019.
The Eastern Cape Community Collaborative Cancer Initiative, as the project is known, is the second THC project to be funded by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF) and marks a notable diversification of the scope of services offered by THC. The overarching goal of the project is to support improved patient outcomes for lung cancer and other common cancers affecting people living in the catchment area of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, by raising community awareness of lung cancer, promoting and linking people to screening, supporting navigation through the health system as well as supporting palliative and survivorship activities.
This community-based project will link with and support the activities of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital Oncology Centre of Excellence, which is being supported through a separate funding agreement with BMSF.
You may be wondering why THC, an organisation that has historically focused on two of the most prevalent infectious diseases impacting South Africans (TB and HIV) would be branching out into lung cancer, so here are some interesting facts:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in South Africa, accounting for around 16% of all cancer deaths, followed by cervix, breast and prostate cancer.
- Lung cancer is the second most common cancer affecting South African men and the fourth most common in women.
- People living with HIV who have access to effective antiretrovirals are living longer lives and co-morbid non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers are becoming an increasing health burden to this group and others. Yet many South Africans have limited awareness of cancer.
- There is evidence that TB, either active TB or successfully treated TB with resultant lung scarring, is a risk factor for the development of lung cancer.
- Lung cancer can present with similar clinical symptoms and X-ray changes to TB (incl. unexplained weight loss, a persistent cough, blood-stained sputum) and diagnosis may be delayed if health workers are not aware of the possibility of an alternate diagnosis to TB.
In light of this, we believe that it is important that links between TB and cancer service providers are strengthened and community awareness raised. TB HIV Care is therefore partnering with four community-based organisations (CBOs) in OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts to raise community awareness and support endeavours to equip community-based and primary health care providers with the necessary knowledge and skills to assess risks for lung cancer and refer patients for early screening.