Freshlyground support Sizophila Counsellors06-02-2012
The members of the popular South African band, Freshlyground, have been outstanding supporters of the DTHF over many years. Their special interest is the vital role that counsellors play in supporting those living with HIV. "Getting tested should be all part of the rhythm of life", says Zolani Mahola, lead singer in the band. Freshlyground are enthusiastic supporters of the DTHF Sizophila Counsellors.
Sizophila means "we shall survive". The 25 counsellors, most of whom are on HIV treatment themselves, provide education and support for patients receiving antiretroviral treatment and are living proof that HIV and TB drugs do work!
The Sizophila project was initiated by the DTHF at the Hannan Crusaid Treatment Centre in Gugulethu. This clinic was established in 2002 in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Health with funding from Crusaid. It has a strong psycho-social support team run by an experienced social worker, Ms Elizabeth Seabe, who with the 25 Sizophila counsellors provide pre-treatment counselling and home care to over 4000 patients.
Linda-Gail Bekker who trained the first Sizophila counsellors in 2000 recalled how this remarkable group came about: " our very first patients who had been able to access antiretroviral therapy through our clinical drug trials were experiencing the "Lazarus effect" - this incredible return to health that antiretroviral therapy induces was like a miracle to us all in the late nineties. These young people asked how they could help to get others to experience the miracle and the rest is history - in 2008 this wonderful team won a platimun Impelelo Award for their contribution to the community".
In 2011 the DTHF clinicians and Sizophila counsellors established an outreach service at the Gugulethu Maternity and Obstetrics Unit to fast-track pregnant women on to antiretroviral treatment. The aim of this project is to promote a greater uptake of antiretroviral treatment by pregnant women and decrease the time delay from HIV diagnosis to treatment as the earlier in pregnancy a mother living with HIV begins taking antiretroviral therapy the better the chances of her child being born HIV negative.
The Sizophila model has also been adapted to support patients on TB treatment and now forms the basis for a TB/ART integration project where information, care and drugs for both diseases can be accessed together. This project which was developed by the DTHF in partnership with Cape Town City Health and the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health has been incorporated into the Western Cape policy document on TB/HIV community adherence support.
Community Care Workers play an essential role in primary health care. Dr Richard Kaplan and Sr Lumke Mtwisha, a senior DTHF nurse/trainer who leads the Sizophila project have worked with Cape Town City Health to develop a ten day training course for Community Care Workers (CCW) and Sr Lulu, as she is affectionately known, assisted the Department of Health in training more than 200 CCWs at fourteen facilities in Cape Town in 2011. This work has continued in 2012 with further development of the training material to include videotaping of Sr Lulu and the DOH trainer for a "train the trainers" teaching programme.
We are proud of our Sizophila Counsellors, the essential work they have done in Gugulethu and Nyanga and that we have been able to assist in developing and rolling out the model of care for integrated adherence support for patients with TB and HIV in the Western Cape.<<Go back to news listing