Health-e (Cape Town)

26 April 2013

South Africa: Sms Reminders Help HIV Patients Take Meds

Vhembe — The clinic management and staff at Matavhela clinic came up with a strategy to help their HIV/AIDS patients take their antiretrovirals (ARVs) regularly.

"The idea came to us after we celebrated World AIDS Day in December last year. We felt that it was not enough to only celebrate AIDS Day and wanted to do something that would help our patients with HIV/AIDS," said the sister in charge, Carolline Xihundla.

"We came up with the idea to use SMSs to remind all our HIV/AIDS patients to take their ARVs on time, because it is very important to them," said Xihundla.

Mashudu Nekhavhambe, a junior nurse at Matavhela Clinic said: "Because we have a cellular phone at our clinic, the staff and members of the community decided to raise some money to buy airtime to send our patients the reminder SMSs. The community has already started contributing money."

The community and patients living with HIV/AIDS are happy with the new arrangement.

"I feel very happy to be able to help somebody else. I believe that this strategy of using SMSs as a reminder will make a big difference. As a community we need to stick together and help each other," said Eunice Doli, one of the community members who has contributed money for airtime.

"We are very thankful to the clinic and the community members for helping us. We are very grateful because many of us are elders who have no families to remind us to take our ARVs, so it is much better to be reminded by an SMS. We are very exited for this to be happening to us," said Merlice Ndou, a patient living with HIV/AIDS.

Nekhavhambe concluded: "We are very serious about our patients' health, that is why we decided to do this for our HIV/AIDS patients. We also want to thank all the community members who are contributing their money so that we are able to help other community members. May God bless them to stick together like this in all the difficult times," said Nekhavhambe.

Suprise Nemalale is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the Vhembe health district in Limpopo.

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