South Africa is home to the world’s largest epidemic of HIV, a virus that attacks a person’s immune system, making one more susceptible to other infections. Sustained treatment with effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) can enable people living with HIV to achieve near-normal life expectancy.
Following HIV, is the much talked about Covid-19 which has placed the country’s healthcare system under a severe financial strain, with community clinics being among the hardest hit. Witkoppen Clinic has announced that they will be discontinuing their Community HIV Testing as of the 1st of October, due to termination of funding of the programme by external sources.
Over the years, Witkoppen Clinic has been helping thousands of people from informal settlements in Diepsloot, Kyasands, and surrounding areas, providing HIV and TB testing, a mental health clinic, antenatal and postnatal care to almost 10 000 patients every month.
The clinic is based in Fourways and services around 1.4-million people from informal settlements in Diepsloot, Kyasands, and surrounding areas, providing comprehensive healthcare to almost 10 000 patients every month.
“Following the onset of COVID-19, all fundraising activities planned for the 2019/2020 financial year were cancelled, with our reserve funds allocated to service patients during the pandemic. To ensure organisational and financial stability for the 2020/2021 financial year, we will, unfortunately, have to retrench 126 employees,” said Dr Jean Bassett, Director at Witkoppen Clinic.
The clinic will still remain open to care for the community and antiretroviral treatment will still be available to anyone who visits the clinic. In an effort to keep the affected staff employed, the Clinic is appealing to potential funders and donors for assistance.
Bassett also encouraged other organisations looking for assistance with HIV and COVID-19 community testing to reach out to the clinic. “We care about our staff and understand that their income is vital, especially during these trying times. Although this is a tough period for our clinic, we remain positive that together, we can make a plan to secure the funding needed to support our employees,” notes Bassett.