03 November 2015

Running out of graveyard space

The Gert Sibande municipality in Mpumalanga can't keep up with the demand for graves as the province launches a new approach to HIV.


Lekwa Local Municipality graveyards are allegedly filling and the area’s high HIV prevalence rates are to blame, according to Lekwa Executive Mayor Linda Dhlamini (corr).

Read: More people are currently dying from TB than HIV

“We are running out of graveyard space as a municipality and we need to stop this,” said Dhlamini who spoke at the recent launch of the municipality’s new model to improve service delivery and the local HIV response. “Lekwa Municipality is third in the province in terms of HIV prevalence…no one should be dying of HIV in this municipality.”

The province has adopted a new “war room” model of local government to improve service delivery and better address HIV as part of the recently launched Operation Vuka Sisebente.

Housing representatives from various government departments including health, social development and home affairs, the new war room model is expected to improve inter-departmental co-ordination and has been successfully rolled out in KwaZulu-Natal.

Read: Red flag over HIV medicine stock out

Since 2011, KwaZulu-Natal has l established more than 600 functioning war rooms. These war rooms have become a central feature of the HIV response by collecting important health and socio-economic data and responding to households’ needs.

About 14 percent of people living in Mpumalanga are HIV positive, according to the most recent Human Science Research Council HIV household survey. The province is second only to KwaZulu-Natal in its burden of HIV and more localised data paint an even more worrying picture.

Lekwa Municipality is located in Mpumalanga’s Gert Sibande District. The country’s 2012 antenatal HIV survey conducted among pregnant women found that about 46 percent of expecting mums in  Gert Sibande district were living with the virus.

Read: Real-life story: HIV is not a death sentence

At the recent launch, Dhlamini encouraged people to go for HIV counselling and testing services, which were offered on site at the recent Standerton event. Those who tested HIV positive were referred to the Lilian Mambakazi Community Health Centre where the department of health has partnered with a local home-based care group to conduct follow ups, according to the Department of Health’s sub-district assistant area manager Sello Sibanyoni.

As part of Operation Vuka Sisebente, the municipality will be holding community consultations in the area regarding access to piped water and sanitation.

The municipality also handed over almost 400 titled deeds to RDP house recipients at the recent war room launch. – Health-e News.

Also read:

Two promising new HIV vaccines tested in SA

A matter of life and death: SA runs out of HIV medicine

Medicine shortage: Patients are still suffering, some in silence



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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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