HIV

A plan for Human Rights and Health: Multi-stakeholder meeting maps the way forward

What do human rights have to do with health? If you think about it, quite a lot. Many reasons people don’t access care are a result of human rights violations. These can be anything from a policeman breaking the needle of someone who injects drugs thereby putting them at risk of blood-borne diseases, to someone not wanting to attend a clinic appointment for fear of losing their job. Denying someone health care is itself a violation of a human right.

This was the reason behind a multi-stakeholder meeting held on the 21 and 22 November in Johannesburg. Nearly 100 delegates from civil society organisations around the country gathered to discuss the data on human rights violations and to formulate the steps to generating a national plan that can address them. Completing this task is a critical part of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs 2017-2022.

TB HIV Care was highly visible at the meeting. CEO, Prof Harry Hausler, presented a case study of how human rights violations impact people who inject drugs, with particular reference to the closing of our needle and syringe programme in eThekwini.

Anna Versfeld and Christian Tshimbalanga, independent consultants working with TB HIV Care, presented the findings of the research they have been doing into the barriers people experience when accessing TB services.

It was an intense two days hearing about how much work we still have to do to address a variety of stigma and structural barriers. We look forward to a plan that will move us towards ensuring that no one is left behind, and that health is accessible to all.

TB HIV Care Voices: Reflecting back on our VMMC programme in OR Tambo

Staff blog. Submitted by Sithembiso Mabasa (Community Liaison Officer)

TB HIV Care (THC) started a VMMC programme in OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape in 2012. Back then it was still taboo to even speak about medical male circumcision (MMC). The first time we kick-started the programme in Lusikisiki we (Zolani Barnes, Kwezi Shumi and Sithembiso Mabasa) were confronted by a group of traditional leaders who were so cross about the fact that we were introducing MMC. Threats were made then and even later THC staff members were often called names and verbally abused.

Through sheer resilience and determination THC stopped at nothing to bring this service to the individuals and communities of OR Tambo. Community mobilisation and demand creation activities were conducted in all corners of society (door-to-door campaigns, schools, community meetings and functions, churches, traditional imbizos, workplaces, national & provincial functions, bilaterals, taxi ranks, community radio stations, local newspapers, distribution of flyers, pamphlets, sport events etc). Excellent work has been done by our clinical team over the years, ensuring quality service (despite poor and often challenging conditions) and lives have been improved and saved.

Just this week we received numerous invitations from the Department of Education and Walter Sisulu University to present VMMC. Very soon THC will no longer provide VMMC in this district. Come the 30th June we will hand the baton over to Right to Care. But credit must be given to our entire team in OR Tambo for such gallant work – and being a part of history in the making.

For Right To Care, it’s their time to take the baton and run with it. I hope when the THC Team exit at the end of June 2018 they will say,”Wow we have made it”.

 

 

 

World AIDS Day 2017

World AIDS Day is marked on 1 December every year. It is an important day on our calendar. A day to shine the spotlight on HIV, re-ignite important conversations, share how it affects us all and (particularly for this year’s campaign) focus on how we can prevent the spread of HIV.

Theme

The South African National AIDS Council’s (SANAC) theme for World AIDS Day 2017 was ‘I have the right to know, prevention is my responsibility’. It focused on an individual’s responsibility in the fight against HIV, including the importance of knowing one’s status, practicing safe sex and adhering to treatment.

The slogan of South Africa’s World AIDS Day campaign was both simple and impactful: Let our actions count!

Events

TB HIV Care supported SANAC’s campaign with World AIDS Day events across the country. These events, small or large, offered communities free HIV testing and counselling as well as a host of other healthcare services, including TB screening, STI screening, family planning advice, basic health checks (glucose and BMI) as well as counselling, advice and support.

The focus this year was on prevention and so our events encouraged people to know their status (in order to protect themselves and others), promoted voluntary medical male circumcision as well as educating people on correct and consistent condom use. Thousands of condoms were distributed.

Our teams took to the streets, transport hubs, sports events, workplaces and stadiums in order to spread the word – often collaborating with the Department of Health, civil society organisations and other NGOs.

Here are a selection of images from the week:

Western Cape

Delft Day Hospital: TB HIV Care’s CEO, Harry Hausler, with the Western Cape MEC for Health, Nomafrench Mbombo.

Western Cape Premier’s Office

The Mitchells Plain DSTV Festival (VMMC team)

Protea Park, Atlantis (which included a 5-a-side soccer tournament)

Eastern Cape

Walter Sisulu University Stadium: TB HIV Care’s OR Tambo team at the WSU stadium on World AIDS Day. Attendees included the Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa and the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle.

KwaZulu-Natal

Pietermaritzburg: Workplace events at Dunlop, Abadare and Willowtown Oil.

UThukela District: The TB HIV Care provided healthcare services at the Dukuza sportsfield in UKhahlamba. The KZN Premier, MR TW Mchunu delivered the keynote address.