TB HIV Care

Expanding Care & Treatment: TB HIV Care to become new DSP for Chris Hani and OR Tambo Districts

On the 2nd and 3rd of August 2018, Laurene Booyens (TB HIV Care’s Care & Treatment Programme Manager) and Gareth Lowndes (Chief Operating Officer) held inaugural meetings with Health Systems Trust (HST), permanent staff and affiliated community-based organisations in Mthatha and Queenstown. They were joined on both days by Sibongile Shezi, HST’s National Project Coordinator.

HST is the current district support partner (DSP) for the Chris Hani and OR Tambo districts in the Eastern Cape. From 1 October 2018, TB HIV Care will inherit these two districts as the new DSP, expanding our Care and Treatment Programme into these regions.

Discussions with province, district and HST led to successful initial transition planning sessions. As a result of our new DSP status, TB HIV Care has secured new office space in Mthatha to accommodate the additional staff.

Gareth Lowndes commented: “I am delighted to finally begin direct negotiations with the staff who will provide direct service delivery on October the first.  These preliminary engagements are critical, in terms of enabling effective change management, in addition to ensuring a seamless transition of programmatic activities and sustained service delivery to communities.”

TB HIV Care Voices: Honing the mobilisation skills of our front-line community workers

Staff blog. Submitted by: John Mutsambi (PrEP Coordinator)

Community peer mobilisers and educators are the most important communication tool for health promotion and uptake of the different HIV prevention options that science has availed.

To hone the skills of these front-line health workers, who are working with adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in uMgungundlovu (KZN), an intensive workshop on community mobilisation for HIV prevention was conducted from 7-8 May, 2018.

The forum brought together 42 participants, including 27 THC HIV Prevention Programme staff and 15 Girls Clubs mentors from Community Media Trust.

The training started with an overview of the HIV epidemic in South Africa and narrowed the focus to AGYW, highlighting the burden they carry as well as the combination HIV prevention options available to them –  which will soon include PrEP.

Thoughtful engagement and discussions on the importance of community mobilisation, the qualities of a good community mobiliser, their roles and responsibilities and how to plan effectively for community mobilisation ensued. During the workshop, a road map detailing the process from community mobilisation all the way through to the provision of clinical and care services was created. The training ended with a reflection on Idowu Koyenikan’s quotation which says, “There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests get together to work toward the same goals”.

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”.