At the beginning of this year, the community health leaders in Terre Blanche and the surrounding areas started a new project to target sexually transmitted infections and high blood pressure. These two issues have come into focus based on numbers of cases and the impact on the community.
More than 3,000 patients come to the Clinic of Hope each year for high blood pressure. A health survey conducted in 2013 revealed that about half of the people in the community had never had their blood pressure checked, and more than half of them had high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to strokes, which are devastating for people no matter where they live but especially where resources are limited. The Clinic of Hope records nearly 5,000 cases of sexually transmitted infections each year.
Building on the success of the past eight years, the community health volunteers and supervisors decided to use home visits for blood pressure education, screening and monitoring. They are also using home visits for behavior change support to prevent sexually transmitted infections and provide education on when to get treatment.
The community health volunteers are a key link between the community and the clinic, making referrals and following up on patients. In the first six months of this new education plan, the volunteers conducted 36 community gatherings for education on sexually transmitted infections, making dozens of home visits to refer cases. They also monitored the blood pressure of 200 community members and referred 60 people for treatment.
The community health volunteers continue their other programs, including many to promote healthy mothers and children: diarrhea prevention (handwashing, breastfeeding, clean water), safe motherhood (refresher training for traditional midwives, education about danger signs), HIV prevention and treatment, tuberculosis monitoring and referral, nutrition tracking, and the treatment of malnutrition.