The Emalahleni Local Municipality HIV/AIDS desk which falls under the Transversal Unit, operating in the office of the Executive Mayor together with stakeholders from the Office of the Premier, Nkangala District, SANTA, Innovative Guru, Social Development, Department of Health and Emalahleni Home Based Cares held a workshop within the community of Empumelelweni. The workshop forms part of the National Strategic Plan and South African National Aids Council (SANAC) which has based its focus on the key and vulnerable population, by assessing co-infections namely HIV/AIDS, TB and STI’s.
Empumelelweni Clinic was identified as having one the highest number of cases in regards to these three co-infections. The workshop enabled stakeholders to gather a deeper insight on the challenges that community members of Empumelelweni face in order to address these issues accordingly. Through group discussions which involved community members and the various stakeholders, factors contributing to the increase of infections were identified. Community members were able to be vocal about the type of assistance they required in order to reduce the number of infections and attempt to eliminate the stigma around the disease. Mr D. Makofane who the Transversal HIV/AIDS desk officer and one of the co-ordinators of the workshop stated the following:
The community identified key drivers and challenges that are affecting them as follows:
- Lack of Skills Development.
- Gender-Based Violence.
- Substance Abuse.
- Over populated of Empumelelweni clinic.
- Mapping Exercise.
- The Mapping of High Transmission Areas around Empumelelweni such Tarvens, residential areas that has been turned into mini brothels.
The following recommendations were made:
- Poverty eradication such as food gardens within households.
- Gender based violence campaigns.
- Substance abuse awareness campaigns.
- Create opportunities for skills development within the community.
- Ensure that the community of Empumelelweni have access to health facilities without being discriminated and stigmatized.
Lastly he stated “Let us give publicity to H.I.V./AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of H.I.V./AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.” Nelson Mandela
Originated By Transversal Unit.