Community help essential in fighting Aids

Usman Aly

Usman Aly

South Africa has one of the most severe HIV-Aids epidemics in the world.

Because it is impossible for the country's public hospitals to care for all the people who are dying from Aids-related illnesses, community-based care is often the best option.

Norah Segoati, health manager for the BHP Billiton Development Trust, says: "The scale of the disease in South Africa makes it essential for communities to be involved in care initiatives."

In impoverished areas, community-based programmes are the key to delivering care and support for people with HIV-Aids

The Kotulong Community Centre, primarily sponsored by the BHP Billiton Development Trust, is one such organisation.

Housed at Metalloys, in Meyerton - part of Samancor Manganese, a BHP Billiton subsidiary - it has a hospice for terminally ill patients and a ward for Aids orphans.

Kotulong also offers an 18-bed hospice unit, seven foster-care units with a capacity for 42 orphaned children, a kitchen, a library, a community hall, a resource centre, training facilities, an administration office, a sports field and gardens.

Training for home-based care is provided.

As well as medical and counselling services, the centre has a poverty-alleviation programme, with sewing and beadwork classes and permaculture projects.

The BHP Billiton Development Trust and the departments of Health and of Social Development fund Kotulong and Metalloys is responsible for its upkeep.