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Ekurhuleni partners with NGOs to reach HIV, TB targets

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality hopes that by partnering with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), it can reach ambitious targets laid out in the country’s national HIV and tuberculosis (TB) plan.

East Rand community mobiliser Fikile Mtsweni says she receives calls from community members "24 / 7"

East Rand Treatment Action Campaign community mobiliser Fikile Mtsweni conducts adherence counseling at local clinics. Her service is just one example of the ways that the Ekurhuleni is partnering with NGOs.

Local government and NGOs recently met in the East Rand as part of a two-day meeting.

The meeting was part of efforts to develop a district strategic plan, which will allow the district to meet targets laid out in the 2012 National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and TB (NSP). The NSP aims to halve new HIV and TB infections as well as stigma, and place 80 percent of those living with HIV on antiretrovirals (ARVs).

Makhusazana Maluleke heads Ekurhuleni’s health and social development portfolio as a Member of the Mayoral Committee. Maluleke said he was confident the metro would reach NSP targets.

Ekurhuleni AIDS Council women’s sector representative Nontyatyambo Makapela echoed Maluleke’s confidence.

“With the partnerships and the joint programmes that Ekurhuleni is doing through civil society, I can say that we will reach the NSP targets,” she said. “We are doing very well in terms of meeting targets, but the only challenges we have are economic.”

Founder and director of the national anti-trafficking NGO Asilweni Cleaning Streets Cherlyn Tshabangu cautioned that the district will never be able to achieve targeted reductions in HIV new cases without better national legislation to protect vulnerable populations who have been trafficked and may be sexually exploited.

Although President Jacob Zuma signed the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill into law in 2013, Tshabangu criticised national anti-trafficking laws as being too lax.

The recent law makes trafficking people a criminal offense and allows for persons to also be prosecuted for debt bondage and withholding travel documents. Those found guilty may be fined up to R100 million and risk life imprisonment.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98