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Residents at Okahandja’s Vyf Rand informal settlement were recently granted access to much-needed wellness testing facilities. The initiative, which was organised by the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) and the Orange Babies Foundation Namibia (OBNAM), saw over a hundred residents of this vulnerable community receive general biometric screening and HIV testing on Saturday, 02 February 2019.
According to a household survey conducted in Windhoek by UNAIDS, the HIV incidence and prevalence is higher in areas primarily characterised by informal settlements which have limited access to adequate HIV prevention and treatment services—such as antiretroviral treatment, HIV counseling and testing and services to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Home to one of the poorest communities in Namibia, Vyf Rand camp has no established health care facility. “We are very proud to have been able to provide this health care service to the people who need it most,” said WBCG Wellness Service Project Manager, Edward Shivute. In total, 109 community members participated in the campaign, with 84 consenting to be tested for HIV.
WBCG began visiting Vyf Rand in 2018, after teaming up with Orange Babies Foundation Namibia, a registered Namibian Welfare organization who has an established presence in the area. “Aligning ourselves with foundations like Orange Babies Foundation Namibia allows us to reach more remote communities along our corridors,” explains Mr. Shivute.
Amongst its many approaches, the WBCG Wellness project operates mobile wellness clinics in an effort to address the rudimentary health needs of hard to reach populations and many other mobile communities along the Walvis Bay Corridors. The two entities joined forces to compliment and further support each entity’s strategic objective.
The partnership focuses on collaborative activities to provide community based HIV prevention, testing and treatment services to vulnerable communities who do not have the necessary resources to access health services at other health centers. Consequently, several Joint HIV testing outreach campaigns have been conducted in Otjimuise and Vyf Rand over the past year.
OBNAM mobilised the community prior to the campaign and this enabled the WBCG Wellness team to reach as many people with HIV testing and linkage-to-treatment services.
In order to curb the stigma associated with HIV testing, the testing services in Vyf rand community also included general biometric screening for cholesterol, glucose, diabetes, hypertension, body mass index, while community members who tested HIV positive were initiated on ART on the same day. Furthermore, community members who were perceived to be particularly vulnerable to HIV infection based on their risk assessment were offered Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (Prep), to protect themselves against HIV infection.
The Orange Babies Namibia Foundation aims to enhance access to education, health and improve the lifestyle of vulnerable communities by providing community-based care services. They provide concrete, measurable initiatives to empower and support these communities. They further endeavour to work with other organisations and individuals to the benefit of the communities involved. “Our purpose is to provide vulnerable women and children with access to a better quality life,” explains Mr. Wilet. The WBCG-OBNAM partnerships holds much promise for the future! Through partnerships we can contribute our part and also reap the benefits of others’ efforts. WBCG is bringing their wellness screening skills and knowledge to a community where is this service is much needed. The partnership, together, adds depth and breadth to our community impact.