HIV care is brought to isolated community

July 6, 2016

Looking at the almost desolate village, once a vibrant community during the height of the asbestos mine’s operations in Bulembu, one cannot help but wonder how the remaining people survive. Initially, accessing HIV care was quite challenging, but fortunately local services are currently offered.

Getting to the village from the nearest town, Pigg's Peak, is a gruelling nineteen-kilometre journey even in a high-clearance  vehicle. The gravel road has hairpin bends winding up a steep hill with a scary cliff drop on one side, which is why very few  transport operators service this area. On arrival in Bulembu, the community's sixmember Inner Council is found eagerly waiting to hear from the Early Access to ART for All community mobilisation team.

Transportation costs

'We are a somewhat isolated community that finds it difficult to get to Pigg's Peak because of transportation costs,' explains Babe
Brown Ngwenya, the Inner Council Secretary. The community Headman's deputy, Make Queen Mdluli, adds that public transport to the area ends at 3:30 pm, which is quite inconvenient for people who have to wait in long queues at the hospital. Mdluli says
they are grateful to the government for supporting a community-based private healthcare provider, Wiseman Sisamala, who provides free HIV counselling and testing, CD4 count testing and pill refills. This, she says, has resulted in fewer funerals. 

This article was published in the MaxART newsletter edition 8 - July 2016