Project HOPE’s signature program in South Africa – The HOPE Centre – is focused on educating local communities about chronic diseases (in particular diabetes and hypertension) through screening, education and the provision of clinical services for the treatment and management of the diseases and support through peer education programs.
Located in Zandspruit on the outskirts of Johannesburg, this project works in partnership with local NGOs, government and academic stakeholders.
In 2015 Project HOPE launched a program that entails working with local traditional healers to improve health outcomes and link patients into treatment to improve adherence. It is estimated that between 60 to 80 percent of patients in South Africa consult a traditional healer about their condition before engaging with “western” healthcare providers. The circulation of misinformation about health can contribute toward delayed seeking of treatment for manageable chronic conditions. By engaging traditional healers through education and partnership they are able to improve linkages to care and ensure patients are referred for treatment well before their condition is unmanageable.
Project HOPE is working to improve traditional healers' knowledge about noncommunicable (NCD) diseases – especially diabetes and hypertension – to improve referrals from traditional healers to primary healthcare clinics for noncommunicable diseases and to improve patient adherence to care for non-communicable diseases.
Project HOPE has also been working closely with the National Department of Health on the screening standard operating procedure for diabetes and hypertension and has been a key player through the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa in this forum. This platform is an important mechanism to drive the NCD agenda in South Africa and Project HOPE is fortunate to play a key role in this arena.
Recently, Project HOPE launched the HealthRise project in De Aar in the Northern Cape. Through this two-year intervention, the team will work with the provincial and district Department of Health to improve the screening and linkages to care. The key approach with this intervention will be the capacity building and mentorship of health care workers and community health workers to ensure sustainability for improved ND screening, diagnosis and linkages to care.
In early 2008 Project HOPE used the successful experiences of the Orphan and Vulnerable Children project in Mozambique to launch a pilot Village Savings Fund project in the informal settlement of Munsieville, West Rand, in partnership with The Haven (a local NGO). The program built the capacity of over 300 caregivers of vulnerable children providing them with a mechanism to save and receive loans to start up small businesses. In addition, comprehensive health education was also provided as part of the program. This was the first VSF project that Project HOPE has undertaken in a peri-urban environment. Other firsts were the all-male groups that were formed, providing specific “male-friendly” health education and services, and the community gardens that were set up to provide nutritional support.
Project HOPE’s HOPE Centre clinic in South Africa once again benefited from the expertise of Eli Lilly’s Connecting Hearts Abroad volunteer program.
Refilwe Lechoba is a program assistant at the HOPE Centre in Zandspruit, South Africa, focusing on noncommunicable diseases.
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