Coping with life on the outside

Almost 700 psychiatric patients have been discharged from hospitals in the Western Cape and according to the SA Health review, more will follow. Many believe that mentally ill patients will have a better quality of life outside an institution. However, being exposed to a new kind of life outside hospital walls presents numerous challenges. Kerry Cullinan reports

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A second chance

A challenge facing many deinstitutionalized psychiatric patients is finding suitable employment. At Fountain House, run by the Cape Mental Health Society, patients receive training and temporary work assignments to give them a second chance.

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Forensic Nurses

Forensic nurses are going to be trained throughout the country to ensure that rape victims get a better service from the state and that good medical evidence is collected to improve the conviction rate of rapists. This decision has been taken by the Department of Health, which is concerned about reports of rape survivors being treated badly by doctors.

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Policing domestic violence

Policing domestic violence is difficult at the best of times, but virtually impossible when the police officers expected to arrest the attackers also assault their partners. This is one of the dilemmas facing Captain Annette Strampe, head of the Northern Cape’s victime empowerment programme.

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Provinces hamper health equity

Ever since provinces were given the power to allocate their own budgets, provincial health departments have been battling to get enough funds. Three health economists propose that central government establishes national norms and standards for health services to ensure that provinces allocate enough money to health.

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Condoms – colour counts

February 7 to 12 is National Condom Week, yet despite the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most people are still not using condoms. Efforts to give teenagers access to condoms are hampered by conservative attitudes. One AIDS educator says although he’€™s conducted workshops at more than 400 schools in Gauteng, only five schools have allowed him to distribute condoms.

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Carletonville shows HIV epidemic can be managed

Sex workers are leading the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS on the mines around Carltonville. The challenge is daunting — a recent survey shows 47 percent of women and 40 percent of men from both the township and the shacks are HIV positive, while 28 percent of mineworkers are infected. However, since the Carltonville AIDS project, Mothusimpilo (“working together for health”), started almost two years ago, it has trained 90 sex workers as peer educators. The results have been phenomenal. In a recent survey, eight out of 10 sex workers reported using a condom every time they had sex. Last year, only two out of 10 of the women were using condoms.

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