Inter Press Service (08.06.09) - Monday, August 10, 2009
With an adult HIV prevalence rate of 21.5 percent, South
Africa is struggling to provide AIDS-related services to
patients. Those on the front lines of disease-fighting efforts
there say the government should embrace and support one often
overlooked option - home-based care.
"Home-based care is probably the only workable solution in the
South African context, but it should not be regarded as a
cheap solution. The state does not provide nurses who provide
home-based care, so they should really empower the home-based
care workers," said Chloe Hardy of AIDS Law Project, an
organization based at the University of Witwatersrand in
Johannesburg. The lack of funding for workers, however is a
big obstacle to home-based care, she said.
Nombuso Mdluli is one of 40 volunteer caregivers at Soweto
Hospital. Like many other caregivers across the country, she
receives a monthly stipend of about $40 for her efforts.
Currently, Mdluli is in charge of 13 patients.
"My visits usually start with 'category three' patients, those
who are bedridden," Mdluli explained. "I do bed bathing,
dressing of calluses and sores, and provide counseling. Most
of the people I visit are extremely poor, and in most cases
cannot even manage taxi fare to a hospital. When a patient is
in need of medical care or needs medicine to be prescribed,
then I contact one of the nurses at the hospice who will do a
In the four years that Mdluli has been a volunteer caregiver,
she has seen a softening of attitudes toward people and
families affected by the pandemic. "People understand the
disease a lot better and we also teach the families how to
take care of the patients," she noted.