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Skinner Clinic: KP Friendly Public Health Services Arrive in Tshwane!

TB HIV Care’s PWID Programme celebrated the launch of the Centre of Excellence, a key population-friendly health services centre at Skinner Clinic, Tshwane District Hospital, on Tuesday, 30 May 2023.

The new centre will ensure vulnerable populations, including PWID/PWUD, MSM and female sex workers have easy access to friendly, inclusive and non-judgemental healthcare services. These key populations face heightened risk of HIV transmission and STIs compared to the general population, largely due to various structural, socio-cultural and behavioural factors.

The launch allowed for candid dialogue between Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, valued partners and service users (representing various key populations), which not only shed light on the challenges faced by key populations – but also explored potential solutions.

TB HIV Care’s Site Manager, Phumzile Mngomezulu, delivered a comprehensive speech highlighting the PWID Programme’s intricacies and the tailor-made harm reduction strategies employed to prevent and manage HIV among people who inject drugs. The programme’s profound impact in Tshwane and the collaborative relationship with the district were also emphasised. In attendance were members of the TB HIV Care team, including peer educators, a peer coordinator and three service users. Importantly, the service users were given a platform to address the MEC directly, sharing their challenges in accessing services at public health facilities.

The MEC attentively responded to the challenges raised by each key population and reiterated the support that Skinner Clinic, as the Centre of Excellence, will provide. The event marked the successful commencement of key population-friendly services at Skinner Clinic, thanks to our partners’ continuous support and commitment. Through training, mentoring, sensitisation efforts, and the implementation of effective service referral systems, the clinic is fully dedicated to meeting the unique needs of vulnerable groups.

Launching the Key Populations Friendly Service Centre at Skinner Clinic was a significant milestone, promising a brighter future for key populations who can now access the care and support they deserve.

World TB Day: Launch of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs in Rustenburg

World TB Day on Friday, 24 March saw the launch of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (2023-2028) at a commemoration event at the Tlhabane Stadium in Rustenburg. TB HIV Care’s CEO, Prof. Harry Hausler, joined the event which was held under the banner of ‘Yes! You and I can End TB’ – a clarion call to encourage all South Africans to contribute to the national effort against TB.

The National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs will guide the national response to these epidemics for the next five years (across civil society, government, affected communities and other sectors) – and the event saw key stakeholders and decision makers gather to mark the occasion. Prof. Hausler met with South Africa’s Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla, where he advocated for the rapid adoption or local adaptation of World Health Organization guidelines. He also met with Dr Nkateko Mkhondo, SA WHO TB Advisor. WHO has agreed to fund a satellite session at SA AIDS Conference 2023 (20-23 June) to consult with delegates on the UNHLM on TB, UHC and pandemic preparedness.

Other dignitaries at the event included the Premier of the North West province, Mr Bushy Maape; SANAC Civil Society Chairperson Ms Steve Letsike; the Chairperson of the SANAC Private Sector Forum, Ms Mpumi Zikalala; and representatives from governmental partners, research entities, civil society movements and the private sector.

The launch of the new NSP on World TB Day signals a growing recognition of the need to prioritise the response to TB in South Africa, where the disease has been the leading cause of death for more than a decade. We look forward to fulfilling the promise of the NSP and ending TB!

TB Data, Sex and Gender

Did you know that males in South Africa are 1,6 times more likely to have TB than females? That’s 1,094 per 100,000 vs 675 per 100,000 respectively, according to the 2019 TB Prevalence Survey.

One of the findings of the South African Community, Rights and Gender Assessment was that while information about biological sex is collected at facility-level, it is not generally available for analysis in relation to TB statistics. This means that districts and provinces are largely unaware of how and whether sex impacts on their TB statistics. Similarly, any interventions implemented to reach males or females are difficult to monitor.

Information around gender (for example, cisgender, transgender, gender fluid or non-binary) is not routinely collected and there is therefore little data about how gender minorities experience TB services. This even though the limited data that does exist suggests that discrimination creates significant barriers to accessing care for gender minorities.

On Wednesday, 29 March 2023 TB HIV Care hosted a workshop in Johannesburg to explore how information around sex and gender is currently collected, and how it can – or should – be collected and presented within TB statistics.

The workshop, which was attended by representatives from SANAC and civil society, resulted in a draft position statement that will be presented to the CSF TB Task Team for adoption.

The ultimate aim is that the CSF TB Task Team will meet with the National TB Task Team to present the finalised position statement calling for real-time, sex-disaggregated TB data that helps inform and create evidence based-strategies to address differential disease risk and service utilisation.