The Launch of the PEPFAR-Funded Community Care Centre in Hillbrow, Johannesburg
21 September 2007
The Reproductive Health & HIV Research Unit (RHRU) and Community AIDS Response (CARE) have worked together with their donor, the US Presidents Emergency Program For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to create a comprehensive community care centre in one of the most deprived inner city areas of South Africa.
The launch of the Centre took place on 21st September, and was attended by
hundreds of people, including local dignitaries and community members. The
Centre is located in an old building in the heart of a deprived inner city area.
Funding from the local authority’s development agency, the JDA, and private donors
has made the regeneration of the building possible. This activity forms part of a
larger partnership between RHRU, the Department of Health, the City of
Johannesburg, the University of Witwatersrand and NGO’s to develop this run down
area into a “Health Precinct”, providing a support hub for a disadvantaged
community facing huge social challenges, and bearing the brunt of the HIV
The event was led by Maxine McCalla-Kay on behalf of the Health Precinct Executive
Committee. CARE’s Executive Director, Keith Muloongo, gave an overview of the
services provided in the Centre. They include a cyber café, income generation
groups, support groups and counseling services, a 24 hour child crisis centre, and
homebased care training facility. The centre also provides a headquarters for home
based care services for the area, and support services for special groups such as
refugees, sex workers, youth and young carers, men, women and couples.
Professor Helen Rees, the Executive Director of RHRU, gave an overview of the
vision of the Hillbrow Health Precinct. Dr Francois Venter, head of RHRU’s HIV
Management Cluster and President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society,
presented a clinical perspective on the impact of HIV service provision to patients
and the importance of incorporating people’s right to live a normal life whilst on
There were two special guests. Justice Edwin Cameron gave a very moving personal
reflection on the journey he has made whilst living with HIV and AIDS, and he
reflected on the personal responsibility of all people to be open and accepting of
their status. Dr Melinda Wilson, representing USAID and PEPFAR, outlined the
commitment of long term support given by the US government through its PEPFAR
programme, to the people of South Africa.
All speakers were warmly received, and Dr Wilson cut the ribbon to declare the
Centre officially open. Additional entertainment was provided by the Community
CARE Choir, and local Praise Singer Thando Cengimbo, who is also a member of
RHRU’s staff. A tour of the facility and a demonstration of some of the services
followed the opening, and a number of the 23 NGO’s providing services in the
Centre set up stands in the marketplace to provide more information on what
support they could offer.
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