Despite challenges Bhubezi changes lives

bhubezi---textSir Richard Branson at the opening of Bhubezi Helathcare Centre in Bushbuckridge. (Image: Virgin)

Bhubezi Healthcare Centre opened its doors in April 2007 and has in that time treated more than 220 000 patients, including over 7 600 patients placed on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART). Bhubezi provides basic health care services on a sliding scale fee basis as well as free diagnosis and treatment for those suffering from HIV/Aids or TB.

The health centre located in Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, gives the towns 500 000 residents access to health services. In an area where 20 % of the population is HIC positive, Bhubezi’s innovative public-private partnership helps tackle a health epidemic in one of the country’s most impoverished areas.

Right to Care, an NGO supporting the fight against HIV and TB, has provided the clinic with infrastructure and support in the form of staff housing, an ambulance, and an x-ray machine. The NGO along with its partners – US Government (PEPFAR/USAID), Anglo American Thermal Coal, the Dutch Postcode Lotterij, the Ndlovu Care Group and Virgin Unite – covers operating expenses and the procurement of ARV drugs and pathology monitoring.

Right to Care built and equipped a maternity and in-patient care facility that is able to treat patients on site. Work in the maternity section focusses on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. The Bhubezi Aids Awareness programme is the centres community outreach initiative.

Dr Hugo Tempelman, Bhubezi co-founder, sums up the centre’s greatest achievement: “It gave hope to the community and belief in sustainable service delivery at a consistent high quality. The clinic has brought medical professionals and expertise to a remote rural area where previously there were none. It shows that quality medical services in a comprehensive package are deliverable in harsh circumstances in rural South Africa.”

A PATIENT SPEAKS

Nappy Mbwane, a mother of three, suspected she might be HIV positive and went to Bhubezi to get help. Testing positive she was put on ART’s “I was weak, I was unable to walk, I was dizzy and I did nothing at home, I was just about to die if God wanted it to be. I wanted to know because this is a part of my life and I’ve got children to look after, my children need me to help them because they’ve got nobody.

“The treatment I’m taking helps me a lot, now I feel very much better. Before Bhubezi was built it was really terrible, there was no help. It is good to go to Bhubezi… you are going to get help. To the people who have donated to the clinic I say thank you very, very much,” she said.

Dr Gilbert Khosa, Bhubezi medical director, says on the Anglo American website that he has lost many friends and relatives to HIV/Aids and was very happy when he was given an opportunity to work at Bhubezi.

“My dream was always to work in my community and this is a chance for me to contribute meaningfully. When ordinary people compliment the clinic for all the good work it is doing, it makes one realise that despite all the challenges we face, we are changing people’s lives for the better,” said Khosa.