Choice (Comprehensive health Care) is a non-profit Trust that was initiated in 1997. It focuses on Community Health Projects in the rural areas in the Lowveld region of the Northern Province. This Province has experienced the highest percentage rate of increase of HIV/AIDS with the highest rate observed among young men and women. Tuberculosis is closely linked with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and approximately 40%-50% of tuberculosis patients are infected with HIV.
Innovation: The project's main objective is to provide quality training and support by professional experts in the Primary Health Care field, with special emphasis on Community Health Workers on farms, Occupational Health and Safety, AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer. Volunteers undergo a series of training courses that equip them to care for and support families and individuals in their own homes.
Poverty Impact: The aim of the volunteers is to assist communities and families to care for their own members within existing structures and in a conducive and caring environment. This is achieved by teaching them how to care for their relatives and by providing assistance when needed. Impoverished rural women in the 5 sub-districts in the Tzaneen Municipal area are targeted with the aim of having volunteers in every village. Presently there are 34 volunteers in 81 villages.
Sustainability: The lack of funds hampers the training of additional volunteers. Infected people are cared for in a familiar environment instead of in crowded hospitals. In one month, 187 volunteers visited 4 000 homes and met families with a variety of ailments. Most of these patients were assisted with support and counseling and given advice about further treatment. The volunteers are community spirited and commit themselves to providing support, counseling and physical care to all in the community. The volunteers have become leaders in their communities and have initiated poverty alleviation and community development projects as well as support groups. The training that the Home Based Carer volunteers receive is based on the criteria for Ancillary Health workers. This will assist with creating a potential career path for those trained. The sustainability of the project depends on on-going funding and volunteers who in the face of their own poverty are willing to care for the needy in their communities. Choice received funding from the National Department of Health in 1999 as well as in 2000. The project is run as a joint partnership between the Department of Health and Welfare and Choice. The partnership will ensure the sustainability of the project.
Replication: The project can be replicated with ease provided the necessary resources are available for the implementing non-governmental organization.