By: Lunga Memela (HST Communications Engagement Lead)
CDC, PEPFAR and HST colleagues celebrate eThekwini's top-performing clinics at a certification ceremony.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in South Africa (CDC-SA) was thrilled to issue certificates of appreciation to six eThekwini public health clinics in recognition of their outstanding performance meeting key HIV indicators in the district.
The certification ceremony was held at the Health Systems Trust's (HST) Durban office with the eThekwini District Department of Health (DoH) and the eThekwini Municipality Health Unit in attendance, where the facilities' Operational Managers and staff representatives were all smiles to receive the awards.
Ottawa Clinic and Caneside Clinic were recognised for achievement in viral load coverage, Lamontville Clinic and Savannah Park Clinic for patients' continuity of care, KwaMakhutha Clinic for HIV case-finding, and Addington Gateway Clinic for strong performance in both case-finding and viral load coverage.
"It's more than the performance. It's about saving lives," said the CDC's Public Health Specialist for Counselling and Testing, Sego Debeila, who saluted the clinic staff as well as the Provincial structures for strong leadership and for working hand-in-hand with HST to make significant strides in HIV management. HST's Programmatic Implementation for HIV/AIDS and TB Prevention, Care, and Treatment Services – known as the SA SURE Pro project – is funded by the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S CDC. The project supports the DoH in line with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Fast-Track strategy to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The key indicators for which the clinics were recognised by the CDC are important. In addition to providing free HIV Testing Services (HTS) within eThekwini, encouraging people living with HIV (PLHIV) to adhere to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is as critical. The proven benefit of HIV being undetectable in the blood system of PLHIV is a major win, as it then becomes untransmittable. This message, also known as U=U, is supported by UNAIDS to confirm that PLHIV who have an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
The event was attended by PEPFAR's Provincial Liaison, Baphiwe Nxumalo, who said it was joyful to see that the DoH–HST partnership is being strengthened and producing such results. "It's the community and the people we serve who are really benefitting," she said.
The clinic staff commended HST for enhancing community outreach, especially to the district's hard-to-reach areas, where residents often find it difficult to travel to the facilities for medical attention. HST's Outreach Teams, comprising Driver Mobilisers, Nurse Clinicians, Lay Counsellors, Campaign Agents and Linkage Officers, take community-based HIV and other health services deep into these communities.
"It's about teamwork and team spirit," reported the clinic staff members at the certification ceremony. Working hard to meet and exceed HIV treatment targets, they can share good practices on targeting key populations such as adolescents, truck and taxi drivers, and men who have sex with men for HIV service provision. The aim is that every individual who visits the clinic must be tested for HIV, regardless of whatever ailment brings them to the facility.
The recipients were grateful and inspired to receive recognition from CDC. "The work that we do is blessed. We are fortunate to have chosen the profession that chose us."
HST's SA SURE Pro Operations Manager, Felicity Basson, and SA SURE Pro Project Manager for eThekwini, Ntombifuthi Shezi, also congratulated the clinic staff. "A heartfelt thank you and appreciation from us as HST, for accepting our staff into your facility teams as colleagues working closely with shared commitment and passion to ensure the success of our TB and HIV programmes."
From left: SA SURE Pro Project Manager for eThekwini, Ntombifuthi Shezi; CDC Public Health Specialist for Counselling and Testing, Sego Debeila; PEPFAR's Provincial Liaison, Baphiwe Nxumalo; and SA SURE Pro Operations Manager, Felicity Basson.
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