Improved wellness through increased equitable access to mental, physical, and sexual and reproductive health support
The biggest public health problem in Eswatini is HIV/AIDS. It has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, with 28 % of adults infected. HIV is linked to tuberculosis and the country also has the world’s highest incidence of TB. Most TB patients also have HIV. By 2015, 79% of Swazis living with HIV were receiving free antiretroviral treatment (ART).
Eswatini’s healthcare facilities have been described as adequate but they struggle to provide quality healthcare because they lack personnel and resources. Many qualified professionals leave the country to work elsewhere, especially in neighbouring South Africa, exacerbating the shortage of medical personnel.
Healthcare in Eswatini
- There are six national hospitals and 200 public clinics and health centres
- There is approximately one doctor for every 6,000 people
- 4,000 rural health motivators employed by the state focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention
- 63% of the population is able to reach a health facility within one hour
We therefore help by bringing mobile clinics to our communities and spreading health messages through our Youth Empowerment Clubs and peer educators.
Since 2008, mobile homeopathy clinics from the Swaziland Homeopathy Project have served Gone Rural weavers and their families at five locations in Malkerns, LaMghabi, Edlangeni and Emdlangwe.
They run approximately free 12 clinics a year at each location and clients can come to them with any mental, emotional and physical problems. And let’s not forget reading glasses—every year a donor in the US sends second-hand readers to the women. Nearly 500 Gone Rural artisans are currently on their books. Our community members can also attend their clinics at other locations for a nominal fee of E30.
We are also piloting visits by a Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS) mobile clinic to one of the schools involved in our youth club programme, Nsukumbili High School. The clinic parks outside the school grounds and students may visit it for more information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV.
Trained through our Safe Sisters Project, peer educators disseminate health messages in their communities. They keep their communities informed on matters relating to HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence and general wellbeing. These dedicated women also provide grief counselling to families who have lost loved ones to AIDS and other causes. They identify women and children who are in need of help and work hand-in-hand with the government’s rural health motivators.
Youth Empowerment Clubs
Our Youth Empowerment Clubs are a forum for spreading sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and hygiene messages among high school students.
Teen pregnancy, domestic abuse and gender-based violence all impede our students’ progress through school. “Sugar daddies”—older men who trade money, goods and food for sex with girls and women—are a harmful consequence of poverty in Eswatini. For these reasons we emphasize SRHR education in the clubs.