Family Free – Mobile Health Clinic

Family Free – HIV counselling and testing & Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

Family Free is aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV through education and family support. At present, there are large groups of people who do not have access to existing health services. This is largely due to:
• Poor accessibility and long distances to local government clinics.
• Insufficient information available about HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT), making people reluctant to test.
• Lack of anonymity and lack of confidentiality (staff members at the clinic are familiar with the person getting tested).
• Overcrowded healthcare institutions.

To extend the services offered by Family Free, Orange Babies funds a mobile health unit that provides access to HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) to people in remote areas of the Mopani district. Access to HCT via the mobile health unit enables people in remote areas to get the right treatment in time and thus reduce their risk of illness or death. The mobile health unit also carries a Point of Care CD4-count machine. By counting the number of CD4 cells in the blood, it can be established how far HIV infection has progressed in a patient. The results are available within 20 minutes and help to determine whether the patient has to start therapy immediately or whether he or she can afford to wait a while.

The mobile health unit can also give pregnant women clarity on their HIV status in the early stages of their pregnancy. A large number of these women would typically only visit a regular clinic at a much later stage. In this, the mobile health unit not only provides a screening service, but a valuable source of information. The unit’s services have been extended to offer blood pressure, blood sugar, tuberculosis, and cervical cancer screens as well as eye tests.