Staff blog. Submitted by Sithembiso Mabasa (Community Liaison Officer)
TB HIV Care (THC) started a VMMC programme in OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape in 2012. Back then it was still taboo to even speak about medical male circumcision (MMC). The first time we kick-started the programme in Lusikisiki we (Zolani Barnes, Kwezi Shumi and Sithembiso Mabasa) were confronted by a group of traditional leaders who were so cross about the fact that we were introducing MMC. Threats were made then and even later THC staff members were often called names and verbally abused.
Through sheer resilience and determination THC stopped at nothing to bring this service to the individuals and communities of OR Tambo. Community mobilisation and demand creation activities were conducted in all corners of society (door-to-door campaigns, schools, community meetings and functions, churches, traditional imbizos, workplaces, national & provincial functions, bilaterals, taxi ranks, community radio stations, local newspapers, distribution of flyers, pamphlets, sport events etc). Excellent work has been done by our clinical team over the years, ensuring quality service (despite poor and often challenging conditions) and lives have been improved and saved.
Just this week we received numerous invitations from the Department of Education and Walter Sisulu University to present VMMC. Very soon THC will no longer provide VMMC in this district. Come the 30th June we will hand the baton over to Right to Care. But credit must be given to our entire team in OR Tambo for such gallant work – and being a part of history in the making.
For Right To Care, it’s their time to take the baton and run with it. I hope when the THC Team exit at the end of June 2018 they will say,”Wow we have made it”.