The right to nutrition and to health cannot be separated.
This was stressed by the TB HIV Care Association when it launched its Nutritional Support Project at its offices on Monday September 7.
The non-profit organisation seeks to improve TB and HIV management by increasing access to TB and HIV diagnosis, care, treatment and community-based treatment adherence support.
Through its Nutrition Support Programme, it aims to provide food to more than 200 people a month to ensure they are able to eat before taking their medication and do not default on their treatment.
Professor Rene Petlhu, TB HIV Care programme manager said the organisation’s integrated approach to addressing both TB and HIV-related matters had made the organisation a pioneer in implementing a comprehensive system of support for TB and HIV patients.
“Most patients default because the claim was that there was no food.
“This initiative aims to enable people to take their medication. We want to protect our people. We want to protect families at all times. We hope this will reduce the number of defaulters. In fact, we are sure that the numbers will go down to zero. This is to show people that we care and we cannot separate nutrition to health,” said Professor Petlhu.
Her deputy, Mabatho Sebola, echoed her sentiments, saying the ultimate goal was for people to adhere to their treatment. “This is a groundbreaking programme, first of its kind. We are hoping it will have a positive impact. We are hoping to have good results and no people shall default their treatment because there is no food,” she said.
Just after the programme was officially launched, a few families received their food parcels.
Town Two Clinic facility manager Babalwa Sigudu applauded the programme and said her facility had been having difficulties with patients who defaulted on their treatment. “This is more beneficial to us as a clinic. Our defaults rate is too high. I hope this will improve the situation and we won’t have defaulters,” she said.
Among the beneficiaries were a family from Town Two and another from J section in Khayelitsha. Both families welcomed the gesture from the organisation.