Mpumalanga looks to strengthen health services through private-public partnerships

Mpumalanga looks to strengthen health services through private-public partnershipsDue to a combination of poor living and working conditions, and likely pre-existing lung conditions, mineworkers are at a high risk of developing TB. (File photo)

Eskom recently donated the first of two buses to be used to expand the school health programme in Mpumalanga. Now, the province may also be courting the private sector to ramp up HIV counselling and testing (HCT).

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The bus is expected to take part in school health activities as well as provide dental and eye care to the elderly
The bus is expected to take part in school health activities as well as provide dental and eye care to the elderly

Eskom recently donated one bus to extend school and community health services to Mpumalanga’s National Health Insurance pilot district, Gert Sibande.

The R15 million bus, which was originally slated for the Nkangala District, is the first of two such buses to be handed over to the province, according to Abram Masango, director of Eskom’s Kusile Power Station near Witbank in Mpumalanga.

MEC for Health Gillion Mashego said he also intends to call on the private sector to increase HCT in the province hard hit by HIV.

“I am busy going around knocking on the doors of private companies to work with us in scaling up HIV testing and access to treatment for all, which is key,” Mashego said at the handover of the bus in the rural community of Daggakraal. “Companies should support and lead the campaign against HIV.”

New contractors hired to complete delayed clinic

Gert Sibande District has one of the country’s highest HIV prevalence rates among women, according to the latest antenatal survey.

Mashego encouraged local youth to focus on education and abstain from sex until marriage.

“Young people need to look after themselves and a school-going child should remain a school-going child,” he told OurHealth. “Do not engage in sexual activities before marriage because you are not ready to deal with the problems that come with sex.”

A 2013 UNICEF review of research conducted in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa found that abstinence-only messaging did not reduce young people’s HIV risk. A 2008 Cochrane Review of US research echoed these findings.

The recently donated bus will also supply services such as eye and dental care for which some patients previously had to travel up to 55 km to access at Ermelo Hospital, according to resident Nomsa Mhlambi.

Mashego also promised work has been done to speed up the construction of a second clinic in the Daggakraal area. The clinic was supposed to have been completed in 2011, according to Mashego.

“A new constructor has been appointed with a timeframe of six months,” he said. “By March next year, the clinic must be ready and used.”