New ARV unit bigger and better

The hand-over of a newly-built ARV/TB Unit at the Retreat community health centre will greatly improve its capacity to provide anti-retrovirals(ARVs) to HIV-Aids patients in Retreat and surrounding areas.

The unit was handed over by the South African Medical and Education Foundation at a ceremony on Friday.

Health MEC Piere Uys, the keynote speaker said, “The new HIV and Aids unit, with five well-equipped consultant rooms, is a huge improvement on the previous cramped consultation room, and will dramatically improve working conditions for the staff and patients.

He said the initiative formed part of his departments ongoing efforts to improve its health infrastructure throughout the province for the benefit of staff and patients.

“Every single month we get more and more people coming to the provincial clinics for ARV/TB treatment,” he said.

“A thousand new patients come for treatment every month,” Mr Uys said.

The patients are from Steenberg, Sea Winds, Capricorn, Westlake, Lakeview and Retreat, among other suburbs.

The unit’s full-time staff include a medical doctor, nurse, two counsellors and an administrative officer, and services include voluntary counseling, testing, dispensing of medication, the treatment or referral of patients to Retreat Community Health Centre, and the monitoring of patients who are on medication.

Retreat Community Health Centre’s old ARV/TB unit started with 50 patients in 2006, but is now treating 440 patients.

However, the centre’s facility manager Henry Lemmetjies, estimated that the new ARV/TB unit would increase its intake of patients to 550 soon.

Staff morale was high at the Retreat health centre, said Mr Lemmetjies, and promised that his staff would utilise the new ARV/TB unit to its fullest.

At the handing over ceremony Dianne Pols of non-profit organisation SA Medical and Education Foundation said the Iqraa Trust South Africa had contributed R250 000 to the establishment of the unit, and that its other costs, such as furniture and equipment, were sponsored by other private companies.

Ms Pols said the foundation’s work is focused on trying to raise funds to help regional and rural hospitals upgrade their medical equipment and facilities.

Chairman of the Iqraa Trust South Africa, Mahmoud Youssef-Baker said the Trust had sponsored R54 million to “hundreds of organisations through-out the country” since its founding in 1994.

He said the trust had done this regardless of its Islamic origins and of the religious, ethnic, race and creed of the recipients of its sponsorships.

“Religion will not unite us (as South Africans), but humanity will,” he said.

During a tour of the ARV/TB unit, clerk Fabian Johnson, nursing sister Estelle Africa and pharmacist Wadia Cassiem, explained the various functions that would be carried out by a doctor, two counsellors, pharmacy assistant and patient advocates at the unit’s five rooms.

News article taken from the Southern Mail: Retreat News Article