People who miss appointments or stop taking their treatment often report being treated badly by healthcare workers when they return to health facilities. This fear of being reprimanded discourages people from going back to the clinic to seek support and receive their treatment.
The growing crisis in many of South Africa’s clinics has reached a point where patient care is being compromised and with it deepening worry that people living with HIV are being pushed out of treatment. Allowing PLHIV to collect their medication refills outside of the clinic can improve this experience and reduce the risk of people disengaging from care.
One of the biggest challenges now facing South Africa’s HIV response is how to support many more PLHIV to engage or re-engage and then stay on treatment. One way to make it easier for PLHIV to adhere to treatment is to provide a longer supply of medicines.
Too many clinics are in crisis and it is driving the continuing HIV epidemic. People are dying because of it, argue members of the Ritshidze Project as they launch a report into the state of public sector facilities in Gauteng.
To mark World AIDS Day 2020, the Ritshidze project is launching a detailed report into the state of the public healthcare system in Gauteng. The report — based on the results of data collected through Ritshidze’s community-led monitoring — will be presented to the Gauteng Department of Health and other duty bearers at a community meeting in Soweto today.
The Ritshidze project today released a new website with resource toolkits on how it uses community-led monitoring to improve the quality of HIV and TB service delivery. Ritshidze — one of the most extensive community-led clinic monitoring systems — was developed by networks of People Living with HIV in South Africa to hold government and aid agencies to account to fix our broken public healthcare system.
During our Ritshidze training we gave communities the tools and techniques to monitor the quality of HIV, TB and other health services provided at clinics and quickly escalate problems to decision makers at clinic and district levels in order to advocate for change.
In September 2020 the Ritshidze Project held a community dialogue event in Daveyton to hear from patients themselves. This came as Ritshidze community monitors were increasingly hearing from patients about their challenges with medicine stockouts, being repeatedly given ‘short-scripts’, and not being communicated with about their medicines and treatments.
Thanks to community-led monitoring in South Africa, we now have the data to back up the stories we have all heard about – early morning queues that last all day long when clinics fail to open on time and then also close early, writes Anele Yawa and Lotti Rutter.
“Ritshidze” — meaning “Saving Our Lives” in TshiVenda — has been developed by people living with HIV and activists to hold the South African government and aid agencies accountable to improve overall HIV and TB service delivery.
Partner organisations include the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the National Association of People Living with HIV (NAPWA), Positive Action Campaign, Positive Women’s Network (PWN) and the South African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and affected by HIV/AIDS (SANERELA+)—in alliance with Health Global Access Project (Health GAP), the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.CLICK HERE to read more and see where we work.