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Relief for Limpopo farm communities in HIV battle

  • by African Times
  • 2 Years ago
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IT takes her hours of walking along deserted farm roads, standing in the scorching sun or pouring rain while hitching lifts from motorists to reach the clinic in Steilloopbrug.

If she is lucky she will reach the clinic by midday. By the time she finally concludes her consultation she has to rush back to the road hoping to hitch another lift so she can reach her home on the farm where she lives and works in Baltimore before dusk.

Added to the stress of travelling long distances, she also has to endure the cost of covering the trip which for most farm workers and dwellers who live from hand to mouth, is a big ask.

This is one of the challenges faced by farm workers and dwellers in located in remote areas, far away from health care facilities. But in a move to reach these disadvantaged citizens and tackle the battle against HIV/ Aids, the department of health in Limpopo is launching the second round of HIV Testing Services (HTS) Revitalization Campaign.

MEC Phophi Ramathuba said the major focus of this campaign would be on the hard to reach areas which include farms. In her budget vote speech in the Limpopo provincial legislature recently, Ramathuba said this will be done in the first quarter of 2018/19 financial year, targeting key populations, communities at risk and vulnerable groups including those with non-communicable diseases.

“Our major focus will be on the hard to reach areas such as farming areas in order to realize our 90-90- 90 strategy,” said Ramathuba.

As part of her department’s strategy to make the fight against HIV/ Aids an inclusive one, Ramathuba announced that they have partnered with private corporate entities such mining house Exxaro and farming giants ZZ2.

The University of Limpopo and University of Venda have also been formally licensed to provide ARVs despite being non-medical sites. Ramathuba said the department has also taken the battle to TVET colleges where they have established 11 clinics throughout the institutions of learning. She said the sites will not only focus on HIV/AIDS but also on the reproductive health for the girl child in line with the SHE CONQUERS Campaign.

“All these partnerships are proving successful in increasing accessibility to ARTs. We call upon other companies to join in this campaign. Without a healthy work force we will never grow our economy, create new jobs and attract new investments. After all, the time for good corporate citizenship is now,” she said.

Ramathuba revealed that the province has reached 1 242 111 clients for HIV testing in the third quarter against the annual target of 1 024 546. She said this has increased to 1 351 938 for the 2018/19 financial year.

She said by the third quarter the province managed to reduce mother to child HIV transmission from the annual target of 1.1% to 0.7%.

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