March, the month that includes World TB Day on the 24th of March, saw a TB/HIV Care team dressed in red overalls hit prisons around the country. TB/HIV Care had launched its part of the Kick TB/HIV campaign. By the end of the month, nearly 5000 inmates had been reached by the programme, which aims to raise awareness about TB and HIV.
Overcrowded and poorly ventilated spaces make prisons an ideal place for TB, an airborne disease, to be transmitted and HIV prevalence in prisons is high. The Global Fund has therefore committed several million Rand to the National Department of Health to efforts to control TB and HIV in correctional services and in peri-mining communities in South Africa, which has the highest incidence rate of TB cases in the world – 1003 per 100 000 people. One of the planned interventions is the roll-out of the Kick TB/HIV programme through several implementation partners, including TB/HIV Care Association.
The awareness sessions at the core of the Kick TB/HIV programme are based around the idea that active engagement promotes learning. The sessions are therefore ‘activations’ which use impromptu dancing competitions, music, an open dialogue and a kicking activity to convey messages about how to prevent or manage TB and HIV.
When given a chance to perform during the ‘open mike’ section of the programme, the inmates show off a range of talents including rapping, singing, dancing and beatboxing
The TB/HIV Care team visited Pollsmoor, Malmesbury, Goodwood and St Albans prisons repeatedly to be able to reach this large number of inmates. The prison setting is challenging, but the team persevered despite rain, blown speakers, a fight between inmates and a power failure.