Gapa strives for a healthy living

Thandi Mgushelo with Sister Nomangaliso Yekiso while sister Nomapha Mlungu and Nompumelelo Mwanda look on.

More than 50 senior citizens, mostly women, gathered at the offices of the Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids (GAPA) in Khayelitsha for a health indaba on Friday August 26.

The event gave a chance to ask critical questions about health matters and they heard how to deal with health challenges.

Nurses from the Town Two clinic encouraged women to have pap smears, dispelling the notion that it was painful.

A pap smear is a medical procedure that is done to screen a patient for cervical cancer.

The nurses also encouraged men to visit the clinic frequently. They said men were reluctant to visit the clinics.

Sister Nomangaliso Yekiso urged the women to have regular pap smears, adding that they don’t go for them because of the long waiting times at clinics.

“Lack of educational presentations and ways to advise our people to live better are the main challenges. It is our duty also as young people to explain to our grandmothers health issues and talk to them openly,” said Ms Yekiso.

“We also need to urge men to check themselves. They are not immune to illness facing the elderly.”

Gapa co-ordinator Daisy Maph eelle said they had been hosting the indaba sessions since the establishment of the organisation and had seen its impact on the community.

She said because people knew that Gapa worked with senior citizens more elderly people were comfortable to attend their events.

“There are many educational indabas, but most of them are not really aimed at empowering senior citizens. We felt that as an organisation it was our duty to prioritise issues facing the elderly.

“We need to have more of these sessions not just us as Gapa but other organisations. We have been working with the Town Two clinic for nearly four years, and we thank them for attending our health indabas whenever we call them,” she said.

Thandi Mgushelo, 56, expressed her sincere gratitude, saying that the event had played a vital role in dealing with issues affecting them. She said the first time she had had a pap smear had been couple of years back at a Gapa health indaba.

“I feel thrilled that the health issues facing senior citizens tops the agenda for Gapa, and I applaud them for making us feel welcome in the community,” she said.