Witkoppen Clinic pauses community HIV testing

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Fourways-based non-profit Witkoppen Clinic will be discontinuing their Community HIV Testing Services, effective from 1 October 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the termination of funding of the programme by external sources, the clinic no longer has access to the financial resources necessary to offer HIV testing in communities. The clinic’s facility-based care will continue as normal.

“Following the onset of COVID-19, all fundraising activities planned for the 2019/2020 financial year were cancelled, with our reserve funds allocated to service patients during the pandemic. To ensure organisational and financial stability for the 2020/2021 financial year, we will unfortunately have to retrench 126 employees,” says Dr Jean Bassett, Director at Witkoppen Clinic.

While Witkoppen staff will no longer be able to provide HIV testing within communities, the clinic itself will remain open to care for the community’s health needs, as it has done for many years. HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment will still be available to anyone who visits the clinic.

In order to keep the affected staff employed, Witkoppen Clinic is appealing to potential funders and donors for assistance. With funding, the clinic would be able to continue HIV testing, TB and COVID screening in Diepsloot and surrounding areas, providing an essential service to help fight the spread of COVID-19, HIV and TB – the biggest infectious disease killer worldwide.

Bassett encourages other organisations looking for assistance with HIV and COVID-19 community testing to reach out to the clinic; “Our Community HIV Testing Services team have experience testing within informal settlements, equipped with a skillset ideal for COVID-19 community contact tracing. They are fully trained to offer vital services during the pandemic and would be a valuable addition to any organisation looking for assistance.”

“We care about our staff and understand that their income is vital, especially during these trying times. Although this is a tough period for our clinic, we remain positive that together, we can make a plan to secure the funding needed to support our employees,” says Bassett.

Based in Fourways, Johannesburg, Witkoppen Clinic services around 1.4-million people from informal settlements in Diepsloot, Kyasands, and surrounding areas, providing comprehensive healthcare to almost 10 000 patients every month. The clinic offers a range of services, including HIV and TB testing, a mental health clinic, and antenatal and postnatal care. For more information, visit their website at www.witkoppen.org.za

ENDS

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Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Ciaran Maidwell

ciaran@be-cause.co.za

021 447 1082 / 072 693 9401

On behalf of Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre:

Director: Dr Jean Bassett

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