Makhosandile Zulu
2 minute read
1 Dec 2020
1:02 pm

Zweli Mkhize slams ‘nurses becoming judges’ at World Aids Day event

Makhosandile Zulu

The health minister says it is important that young people are not marginalised or sidelined when dealing with health issues, including family planning, at public healthcare facilities.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has remembered the more than 50,000 people who have lost their lives to Covid-19 during a webinar on 4 March 2021 hosted by the National Press Club and the GCIS. Picture: AFP/File/GUILLEM SARTORIO

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says his department will “work very hard” to address issues at public healthcare facilities that exacerbate stigmatisation for people living with HIV.

Mkhize was responding to a comment from one of the attendees at the World Aids Day commemoration event on Tuesday in Soweto, who raised concerns that psychosocial support for people living with HIV was no longer being provided in some clinics and stigmatisation was still an issue at these facilities.

The attendee said stigmatisation at some public healthcare facilities was exacerbated by how people living with HIV were made to queue in lines designated for them and carried green cards, which inadvertently reveals their HIV status.

Mkhize said he had also been angered by the experience shared by another attendee who said they were turned away by clinic nurses when they took their young daughter for family planning and the daughter later ended up falling pregnant.

The minister said the nurses should have assisted the mother and created a communication channel between themselves, the mother and the young girl.

Mkhize said his department would address the issue of nurses “becoming judges” over young girls who sought assistance such as family planning from public healthcare facilities.

Mkhize said he thought this attitude by nurses had been dealt with by the department but reiterated that it would be addressed so that patients are “accepted for who you are”.

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The Department of Health has employed younger nurses who have been placed at public healthcare facilities to ensure they deal with issues faced by adolescents, the minister said.

It was important that young people were not marginalised or sidelined when dealing with health issues, including family planning, at public healthcare facilities, Mkhize said.

“We have to do a whole lot more work on that,” the minister added.

The department would continue to work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Treatment Action Campaign, to identify the causes of stigmatisation at public healthcare facilities, issues such as different colour codes for patients’ cards, different queues for people living with HIV and their status being called out for all to hear by nurses, Mkhize said.

A lack of psychosocial support and community support contributed to treatment not working effectively, the minister added.

The minister urged people living with HIV to not lose hope “and take the battle forward”, further urging NGOs in the area to work with the government in the fight against the HIV/Aids epidemic.

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