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The South African government should train more HIV/Aids and TB activists to support patients on antiretroviral (ARV) and other treatments.
Monica Nyawo, a community health worker who works in Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, believes a support network would go a long way to ensure people remain committed to their treatment regime.
“To get your medication is not so easy. Transport is a problem. People come from rural areas and they don’t have money. There are also not so many clinics.”
The Department of Health recognises the importance of a support network to promote health. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the reengineering of the primary healthcare (PHC) system in his budget speech in May last year. The system focuses on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health.
The PHC system will be located in a district-based service delivery model focusing especially on maternal and child mortality. According to the department’s human resources in health (HRH) strategy document the reengineering of the PHC system will require “priority attention on maternal, child and women’s health,” while maintaining the HIV/Aids focus. Community-based care and preventative healthcare will also be emphasised.
Municipal ward-based PHC agents form part of the reengineering of the PHC system. These teams will be based in a municipal ward and will involve seven PHC workers per ward. It will comprise six community health workers and a specialist PHC nurse. Each team will be responsible for an average of 1 619 households, or approximately 7 660 people. The core components of the integrated service are as follows:
Nyawo says that it is vital for the department to employ the right people with the right skills.
She has been working in the area for seven years and has seen many improvements, but HIV/Aids and poverty are still massive challenges.
The “sugar daddy” phenomenon where young girls date older men in exchange for money or other goods is rampant. Nyawo is involved in a campaign to educate boys and girls about the dangers of this practise.
Nyawo is HIV-positive and believes this helps her to be a more compassionate counsellor to others who also have the virus. She also encourages people to get tested.
Education is key to empower people to make informed decisions about their health, she says.
Nyawo is very grateful for the information AHP provides on its website and through newsletters and says it provides her with valuable information.