University Support ready to take on 2017 in Limpopo

The HEAIDS University team began the 2017 institutional visits in order to support the planning and implementation of the delivery of HIV/TB/STIs, health and wellness programme services in the sector. The team which is led by HEAIDS Programme Manager, Mr Alex Semba embarked on a road show to introduce the new Universities Programme Coordinator; Mr Shibashiba Moabelo, who will support all the Universities in Limpopo. Mr Shibashiba will play a vital role in coordinating effective and efficient access to screening and testing of HIV/TB/STIs and other health and wellness ailments to students and staff provided through First Things First Programme. This is an initiative to foster early detection, enhanced earlier referral to care, treatment and support for persons who have tested HIV positive and encourage a healthy seeking lifestyle.

He will also ensure the provision of capacity development in the form of peer education for students and staff in order to strengthen health promotion, knowledge generation and sharing of health information, values and behaviours and further address components of structural drivers related to economic and social factors that drive infections in the post school sector.

The institutions visited included University of Venda, University of Limpopo, University of South Africa and Tshwane University of Technology. Among the participants of the meeting were:

  • University management,

  • Health & Wellness Institutional Coordinating Committee (HICC) Chairpersons,

  • Managers and members;

  • Peer Education Leaders,

  • Student Representative Council (SRC) members,

  • Student Counselling Managers,

  • Residence Managers,

  • Sports and recreation managers,

  • Support group members and other structures representing the student communities.

The universities welcomed the developments in the First Things First programme model that covers additional components that will assist to increase campus activations, encourage a healthy seeking behaviour, (especially among young male students) and the enhancement of the quality of life in young people, through regular screening and testing for major ailments such as HIV, STI, TB, cancer and cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, the universities are keen to adopt the HEAIDS Peer Education training which includes topics on the fundamentals on HIV, men and women heath and empowerment, LGBTI and alcohol and drug abuse prevention.

 

HEAIDS will aim to ensure that young people have the knowledge, resolve and means to protect themselves from HIV and that all young people will have access to sexual and reproductive health and rights education, including HIV testing services.

 “Many young people are still in need of access to sexual and reproductive health education and HIV services. No student or staff should spend long hours away from their academics seeking health services. It is our role to ensure that these services are brought to the door steps of our students and staff,” said Mr Semba.

HEAIDS will support the universities in efforts to educating and empowering staff and students to be able to advocate for equality and dignity of all students and staff in their respective campuses that will foster an environment that is free from discrimination and violence.

Mr Norman Letebele, Health & Wellness Director at University of Limpopo said “we appreciate that HEAIDS visited us early in the year to ensure alignment of our activities to the HEAIDS programmes and we look forward to a successful year. We hope to present our case studies at the HEAIDS Conference scheduled for June 2017”.

The universities shared their 2016 challenges and successes and identified areas that need further support in 2017. The universities were encouraged to start planning for their Peer Education trainings and activations for First Thing First in order to allow sufficient time for HEAIDS to engage various service providers and partners to support the university activities.

Student representatives and managers alike suggested hosting a mini-student conference to share experiences such as managing a successful support group/adherence clubs like those effectively managed by University of Limpopo and University of Venda. Following the meeting a regional platform will be created to allow the universities in the province to share best practices, resources, common challenges and find solutions together.