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Wellness Day for Swaziland’s Health Workers Focuses on Workplace Safety and Family Health
Swaziland has among the highest incidence HIV rates in the world, and the pandemic continues to test the health sector’s ability to respond. Particularly affected are health care workers who provide critical services to identify, diagnose, treat, and counsel patients amid considerable challenges. Faced every day with assisting patients as they cope with a new infection or succumb to AIDS, Swaziland’s health care workers often experience stress and grief as well as potential exposure to HIV and related illnesses.
To help health workers better face the stresses and challenges of their jobs while maintaining their own health and well-being, University Research Co., LLC (URC) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) is working with Swaziland’s Ministry of Health to develop a Workplace Wellness Program. The program held its first Wellness Day event in June, inviting health care workers and their families in the Hhohho Region. The event offered a fun, informal experience where workers and their families could take part in physical activities like aerobics and soccer and also address their health concerns.
Organized with the Regional Health Management Team, the National AIDS Program (SNAP), and the National TB Control Program (NTCP), the event provided access to HIV testing and counseling as well as screening for TB, hypertension, and diabetes. Through sports and theatrical dramatization, program leaders encouraged health care workers and their families to know their HIV status and be aware of TB/HIV co-infection and other chronic diseases that affect their well-being, including psychosocial issues.
About 350 health workers from health facilities in Hhohho attended, along with their family members. More than 30 participants accepted an HIV test, and some were found to be positive and were referred for follow-up care. Nearly 90 were screened for TB, including 20 children. Fortunately, no child was identified as having TB. Adults who received a positive screen were referred for further care.
Health workers who attended reported that they:
preferred, for confidentiality reasons, accessing care at facilities where they do not work;
recognized the need for more children, including their own, to access HIV testing and TB screening services; and
benefited from the event and associated free health services.
HCI Swaziland is now working with the Ministry to organize more wellness days in other regions.
Nokuthula Mdluli is a Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) Coordinator for HCI Swaziland; Marianne Calnan Antiretroviral Treatment (ART)/TB Clinical Advisor; Yohannes Ghebreyesusv is MDR-TB Advisor; Ntombifuthi Shongwe is MDR-TB Coordinator; Nompumelelo Nwandwe is TB-HIV Coordinator; and Samson Haumba Country Director for Swaziland.