The new NSP on HIV, STIs and TB 2012-2016 sets goals for rural health

In September RHAP and RuDASA made a submission to SANAC on the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB, Draft Zero. The needs of rural communities were overlooked. We are therefore glad to announce that the final NSP, launched on World AIDS Day, explicitly identifies rural communities as a vulnerable group with rising HIV prevalence. Amongst other, the country’s new strategy has set the following goals:

Strategic objective 1) Social and Structural Drivers: “HIV prevalence is increasing rapidly in rural, formal settlements. A big challenge in rural areas is access to appropriate services. A large proportion of the rural population has no sustainable livelihood, which contributes to deprivation and ill health. Government will develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to address the social, economic,infrastructural and governance challenges that have been identified in rural areas. Access to health services, including HIV and TB interventions, has also been prioritised”. “There is a need to implement a unique identifier to ensure a continuum of care for migrant populations,both between rural and urban areas and provinces within South Africa, and between countries in the region.”

Strategic Objective 2) Prevention: “Current systems for the provision of Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, for adults and children, need to be significantly scaled up and improved, especially in rural areas.”

Strategic Objective 3) Treatment: “Household contact is a major part of the work of the ward-based primary health care outreach teams in the new primary health care re-engineering programme. Currently, medication is delivered by health care facilities or by couriers (in the private sector). In the case of the former, a huge burden is placed on employed and rural people with chronic illnesses who may not have access to health facilities during working hours. This intervention is critical to decentralised community-based programmes.”

“Access to services on weekends/out of hours: Most primary health care facilities operate on a five-day, 8h00 to 16h00 basis. This makes these services inaccessible to many people who require primary health care services out of hours, including the employed, those at school or tertiary institutions, and those who travel long distances to seek care, particularly people living in rural areas. Re-examining delivery models and hours for clinical services will allow for improved access to treatment, and better use of scarce health care resources. This also applies to most other social services required by people with chronic illnesses”. Download the NSP submission here:  RUDASA_RHAP submission on NSP Draft Zero_13 September 2011[1]