Siyanqoba Community Support Group works in the deep rural area of Mkhunya in the province of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. In this area, distances between those who need health care and the nearest local clinic can be an insurmountable challenge. To bridge the gap, the community caregivers of Siyanqoba travel to their clients’ homes, acting as frontline workers to deliver a holistic home-based care program that brings medication, counselling, food parcels, medical referrals and information right to the doorsteps of those who need support.
They are trained to support those who are HIV positive, and to advise on antiretroviral (ARV) adherence strategies. ARV treatment refers to the medication that HIV positive individuals must take daily to suppress the virus. Defaulting or not adhering to a prescribed ARV treatment plan can cause an individual’s body to develop resistance to the drug, rendering it ineffective. Because of the trusting, respectful relationships they develop with clients, and the continuity of care they provide, Siyanqoba reports a 96% adherence rate among their clients, which is much higher than South Africa’s national average.
Siyanqoba regularly speaks with public officials and other stakeholders to amplify the needs of their clients in order to improve rural health. They’ve successfully advocated for the amalgamation of health services at local clinics so that HIV positive individuals are no longer treated separately – a practice which essentially discloses an individual’s HIV status to other patients at the clinic, and makes them vulnerable to discrimination and stigma.
You can’t fight if you are one and don’t know that there are other grannies who have got the same problem. But if you are together you can release everything that is inside. You turn that anger into a direction for action.
Olga, South Africa
(Powered by Love, 2017)