Iraq, South Africa

Published On:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Author:

Chelsea MacLachlan

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Born in South Africa, August 1987. I grew up in Cape Town and went on to study Photography at Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. I graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art & Photography with distinction. I am currently back living in Cape Town after spending time working in Europe. I am freelancing and pursuing personal projects. Topical interests of mine include public health in South Africa, current affairs in Southern Africa, human interest stories and travel! See more at http://www.chelseamac.com

Introduction

Iraq is one of five informal settlements in Grabouw, a small town lying just outside of Cape Town. The settlement got its name from being considered the worst place to live in the area; it is the poorest and furthest up the mountain. Other settlements in the area have names such as Melrose Place and Beverly Hills. 

While the community of Iraq is small, it has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in South Africa (34%). Alarmingly, the area of Grabouw does not have a clinic with overnight facilities or on site doctors. The difficulty of reaching healthcare services meant that the residents of Iraq were unable to regularly access their treatments and were subsequently defaulting. This is especially concerning where adhering to treatment for HIV and TB is crucial. This is where Xnesh and Sindy come in. Together, they visit the homes of people who live with HIV and TB. They deliver medication, make sure patients adhere to it, administer basic care, perform checks and schedule referral appointments with the doctor when needed. This personal care is free for the people of Iraq, through the support of Themba Care Organization who have facilities in Grabouw. Xnesh and Sindy serve as the link between patient and clinic. It is evident that such care does not come without emotional investment, overwhelming compassion and personal responsibility for a community that Xnesh and Sindy want to see get healthy.

The Community Health Worker model is one that is being adopted in many communities as a way of combatting the country’s crippling HIV & TB crisis. It is part of a shift within the public healthcare system, which seeks to decentralize public healthcare from the hospital, to the clinic, and into the community. 

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