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Indiscreet Nurses Tell Patients' Secrets

Patients at Limpopo's Matavhela Clinic say that not much stays just between patients and nurses.

Mbavhi Ndwambi from Musunda said that although there are other clinics in the area, she chose to go to Matvhela because it was closest to her. Nurses' indiscretions have made her rethink the choice.

"I'm starting to wonder if choosing this clinic was the wrong idea because there are no secrets here," she told OurHealth.

The National Health Act states that all patients have a right to confidentiality. This is in line with with the right to privacy in the South African Constitution but nurses at the clinic allegedly publicly disclosed Thambo Tshiedano's HIV status.

"I went to the clinic for HIV tests and they came back positive," Tshiedano said. "The only person who knew about my status was the nurse who tested me, but I was surprised to hear people talking about my status."

"There could only be one person who had revealed my status to someone," Tshiedano added.

The incident has shaken the confidence of Tshiedano and others in the clinic's ability to guarantee patient confidentiality.

"Whatever sickness you present with at the clinic, it will be the following day's news," Tshiedano said. "You will wonder how that came out because you only told or were seen by a certain nurse who you were supposed to be able to trust."

Tshepo Munyai from Gundani said that some are considering paying more for transport to visit other clinics farther away as they call on the clinic to take action against the two nurses.

"The clinics are far and it will cost us to get there but it would be better than having our confidential problems known by everyone," Munyai said.

When Ourhealth went to the clinic, the two accused nurses, whose names are known to OurHealth, had locked themselves in the consultation room.

The sister in charge, Caroline Xihundla, however spoke to us.

"We have received couple of complaints from some of our patients about their privacy being breached," she said. "They even mentioned the names of the two nurses who are revealing private information."

"We have sat down with the two accused and warned them to stop revealing patients' secrets or action will be taken," Xihundla added. "Since then we have not received any complaints."

"We are really sorry to all the patients whose privacy has been violated by our staff members, and we promise to make sure that it never happens to any other patient again," she added.

Uganda: Pros and Cons of New ARV Therapy for Pregnant Ugandans

Uganda has gotten plenty of kudos and some criticism over its roll out of the new antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women and their babies, known as Option B+.

Recommended by the World Health Organization in June 2012, Option B+ consists in life-long provision of ARV therapy to pregnant women regardless of their CD4 count. CD4s, or helper cells, fight infections in the body.

Before, under Options A and B, mother and baby were given ARVs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Only women with CD4 counts under 350 were prescribed ARVs for life - but CD4-counting machines are expensive and scarce in Africa.

Uganda has done remarkably well. Over 70 percent of all health facilities offer Option B+ and it overshot its target of 35,000 women on treatment in the first year, reaching 50,000 by October 2013.

"We are overwhelmed by the roll out so far," said Godfrey Esiru, national coordinator of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) at the Ministry of Health. "It is the cheapest option for a country with limited resources for the health sector."

Uganda's seroprevalence is 7 percent, or some 1.5 million people, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Concerns

AIDS activists welcomed the roll out but voiced some concerns.

"Option B+ denies a pregnant woman the right to decide whether to join the service or not," said Dorothy Namutamba of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDs in Eastern Africa (ICWEA).

This criticism featured prominently in the focus groups organized by ICWEA in 2012 to discuss the experiences of women with Option B+ in Uganda and Malawi.

"The names Option A, B and B+ imply that pregnant women who test positive for HIV are being given a range of options to choose from, whereas in reality it is the government that chooses which option to implement," reads the ICWEA report on the focus groups.

Unequal treatment

Young HIV-positive women may not want to start lifelong ARV treatment when they still feel healthy, although the regime is simplified to one pill a day. Over time, about two out of 10 people on treatment develop resistance to ARVs and must switch to more expensive second or third-line drugs.

Kenya: Disabled Want Free Healthcare

People living with disabilities in Laikipia county want the government to exempt them from medical charges in public health facilities. They also want free trade licences and absolutely free primary education for their children in public schools.

Speaking in Nanyuki Social Hall during the United Nations International Day for persons with disabilities on Tuesday, they said public health facilities should be properly equipped for surgical operations.

Led by nominated MCA John Nderitu, who is blind, they disabled people said they have been sidelined and therefore need recognition.

"Despite being physically challenged, we can do some jobs and the government must consider us in employment," Nderitu said.

They demanded that persons with disabilities begging in the county's major towns like Nanyuki and Nyahururu be taken back to where they came from.

They said the beggars are not residents of the county. Nderitu said the beggars are brought by some people to be used to collect money from unsuspecting sympathisers.

County gender and social services executive Ann Jeptoo Chumo said the disability sub sector has not been fully devolved. She told the people with disabilities to raise the issues with the national government.

East Africa: SMS for Life Reduces Wait Times for Antimalarial Medicines

SMS for Life has reduced wait times and stock-outs for antimalarial medicines from three months to a few days and from 79% to less than 26% in three districts in Tanzania

Today, Novartis senior executives gather in Basel, Switzerland for the first-ever Novartis Africa Day, to review the company's innovative work in Africa, including growing commercial activity, novel approaches to expand access to high-quality, affordable medicines, local talent development and the company's Malaria Initiative.

Novartis employs a range of activities on the African continent with the aim of becoming the leading healthcare company in Africa. Programs to be discussed at today's event include Sandoz Health Shops in Zambia, the Novartis Malaria Initiative and SMS for Life.

Sandoz Health Shops have the potential to reach more than 2.5 million patients over the next four years. The Novartis Malaria Initiative has provided more than 600 million antimalarial treatments, without profit, to more than 60 malaria-endemic countries.

In addition, SMS for Life has reduced wait times and stock-outs for antimalarial medicines from three months to a few days and from 79% to less than 26% in three districts in Tanzania. "Novartis is taking an outcomes approach, looking beyond therapeutic solutions to a focus on new technologies, new commercial models, education and training," says Joseph Jimenez, Chief Executive Officer of Novartis, who will open the event.

"As the continent increasingly grapples with the dual healthcare burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, we believe we can make a significant difference in improving lives as the demand for healthcare rises," he concludes.