National Union

Mobilizing Communities in the fight against AIDS

Since 1999, the innovative Bambisanani Project has worked to address the urgent need for home-based AIDS care in some of the most devastated areas of South Africa. The Project is serving as a community mobilization model nationwide and proves that community support is crucial to successful health programs. Half of South African mine and migrant labourers come from an area along the border of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Province. Almost 40% of the residents are unemployed and do not have enough money for basic food and clothing. TB cure rates fall below 20% in some areas and in 2000, 30% of households had a member fall chronically ill. It is here, in one of South Africa's poorest regions, that the Bambisanani Project focuses its efforts. Despite these odds, local communities are working together to demonstrate that all is not lost, and together, they can prevail. Bambisanani provides community support by teaching groups of community members, all nominated by traditional leaders, to become home care supporters and trainers to care for the terminally ill. Today, these home care supporters form a wide-reaching referral network working with local hospice, health centres, and hospitals to identify terminally ill patients and families in need of home care support. Once identified, home care supporters provide families with home care kits with basic supplies to make loved ones comfortable and teach families how to address simple health problems. Families learn how to massage to decrease pain, when to administer TB medicines if needed and how to ensure victims do not develop bedsores. Despite what seems to be a depressing situation, one need only remember that before home care, families had no one to turn to as loved ones died in more pain-and with less dignity. To date, the Project has: · Served a population of more than 50,000 with AIDS care and support · Developed strong partnerships between communities, public agencies, and private companies · Trained 60 home care supporters and increased capacity to care for terminally ill · Identified 500 children in distress and directed them to appropriate support · Supported 255 TB cases, 235 terminally ill cases and 120 HIV/AIDS cases The Bambisanani Project is a partnership between the EQUITY Project, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Employment Bureau of Africa (TEBA), Gold Fields Ltd, Harmony, Gold Field Ltd, South Coast and Transkei Hospice, Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa (PPASA), Anglo Gold, the National Union of Mineworkers, and the Mineworkers Development Agency. For more information contact Carmen Urdaneta of the EQUITY Project at carmenu@equityproject.co.za.

DaimlerChrysler invests R6m in HIV/AIDS battle

Daimlerchrysler South Africa, the motor manufacturer, announced on Monday, a R6 million investment in research for the development of a policy and strategy for tackling HIV/AIDS in the workplace. The project is a joint effort with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the German government - through the German Agency for Technical Co-operation (GTZ). DaimlerChrysler has put in R5 million, while the other R1 million came from the GTZ. Christoph Kopke, the chief executive of DaimlerChrysler SA, said the money would cover the first phase of the project, which involved training staff, traditional healers, community doctors and health workers, who would all become roleplayers. The project was aimed at DaimlerChrysler SA's 3 816 manufacturing workers, 386 workers in administration and marketing and 243 members in the parts section. There were also about 23 000 family members. Kopke said the objectives of this comprehensive and need-orientate HIV/AIDS workplace policy were to prevent further infections and to reduce stigmatisation through education programmes. It is envisaged that each HIV-positive employee or family member will receive R30 000 a year in medical assistance, including family counselling and support. (Source: Business Report, 19 June 2001)