Taxi drivers rave about outreach TB, HIV services

Taxi drivers rave about outreach TB, HIV servicesFree State community health workers say they have not been paid in months following an April circular allegedly sent by Free State Health MEC Benny Malakoane.

Sandile Ngcobo’s day starts at 4am. By the time his 16-hour shift as a Pietermaritzburg taxi driver is over, local clinics are closed and that is why Ngcobo says he welcomed the chance to test for HIV and tuberculosis (TB) at work.

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Minibus taxi
At 40 percent, uMgungundlovu District has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the province, according to a 2012 survey conducted among pregnant women.

Ngcobo works at Pietermaritzburg’s Emgodini taxi rank. He recently tested for HIV and TB at the rank as part of outreach testing.

Reggie Skhosane works alongside Ngcobo and drives a taxi to and from the rank and Caluza township. Skhosane also took the opportunity to test for TB.

“I find it very easy and quick especially because (the health workers) took my contact details and promised to give me a call as soon as the results are available,” he said. “In that way, it’s convenient for me because I won’t have to ask for a day off from work so I can go look for results that are not there.”

“I cannot afford to stay a day away from work since here in the taxi industry, ‘no work, no pay’ even if you have got a doctor’s note,” he told OurHealth.

Local health workers said they had been surprised at the demand for services. The first 25 people to test at the Emgodini taxi rank received watches as an incentive, but nurses indicated that the demand for testing continued even after watches had run out. Health workers were also offering referrals for those seeking out medical male circumcision as well as other health services.

“I know my HIV and TB status (but) I was hoping to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs),” said Thobani Madondo. “My girlfriend went to the clinic yesterday and she came back with an appointment card telling me I must go for STI testing since she tested positive.”

“Unfortunately for me, no STIs testing is (done) here, but the good thing is the fact that they referred me to City Central Clinic about 5 minutes walk from the taxi rank,” he added.