Blessed Gérard’s Hospice HAART Programme


Blessed Gérard’s Hospice HAART Programme (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy), a joint programme of Blessed Gérard’s Hospice and the South African Catholic Bishops Conference, has developed and matured over the past year. We are very grateful to the government of the United States for channelling funds through their “President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief” (PEPFAR) via the “Catholic Relief Services Consortium” (CRSC) to the “Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference” (SACBC) to finance a considerable part of the cost of the programme. Through the admirable work of Sr. Alison Munro O.P., Dr. Malebo Maponyane, Johan Viljoen and the other members of the SACBC AIDS Office fourteen functioning ARV roll-out sites in the whole of South Africa could be established so far and we are proud to be one of them as “SACBC site 3”.

It was extremely difficult to find a medical doctor and a professional nurse who would want to work in Mandeni, which is often considered to be “in the middle of nowhere”. Finally, on 1 August our new Doctor started work. The professional nurse, Sr. Elizabeth Coetzer had already started with us and had undergone the necessary training. The team of Father Gérard Lagleder, Mrs. Clare Kalkwarf, Dr. Saba Shembe (until November 2004), Dr. Lerato Gabela (since November 2004) and Sr. Elizabeth Coetzer has gelled and have worked extremely hard to make the programme function efficiently.
We have trained sixteen of our members of staff as therapeutic counsellors to enable them to counsel the patients, teach HAART readiness courses and assist in adherence monitoring.

The schedule of our HAART Therapeutic Counsellors' Course







9:00 – 12:00

HAART readiness Course

Module A

HAART readiness Course

Module B

HAART readiness Course

Module C

HAART readiness Course

Module D

Counselling skills

12:00 – 13:00






13:00 – 16:00

Teaching skills

Advanced HIV/AIDS information

Opportunistic Infections

Advanced HIV/AIDS information

Anti- Retroviral Therapy

Advanced HIV/AIDS information

Drug Reactions

HIV/AIDS Pre- and Post-test counselling

Partner counselling

Family counselling

Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre has been accredited by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health as an Antiretroviral (ARV) Therapy Roll-out Site. We are working in line with and in co-operation with the SA Government roll-out plan. In actual fact, we have even trained patients and staff of the Provincial Hospital in Stanger to help them get the government ARV roll-out going and we continuously include their AIDS patients from our area in our HAART readiness courses. Thus we have developed a very good and beneficial relationship of mutual appreciation and assistance to the good of the patients.

Fortunately, before the medical doctor started work, all the plans were in place, having done extensive research into the running of a programme such as this and all of the HAART team having attended the HIV / AIDS Management Course. Once the doctor was in situ it was easy to begin. Within one month we had put our first three patients onto anti retroviral therapy. Four months later we have 37 patients on the therapy and another 20 in training to receive their drugs. The 100 places which the funders will pay for will soon be full. In March 2005 we will be able to put another 100 patients onto the programme.

This programme requires absolute commitment from the patients, who are expected to take full responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. This is the reason why all candidates for the HAART programme must undergo a sixteen hour information and education preparation, spread over four weeks. They do have to have a “treatment buddy” who will attend the courses with them and will accompany them through their therapy; rendering encouragement and reminding them to take their tablets, advising them to contact the Hospice should they need assistance. The preparation course covers the following subjects:

Week 1: Teaching Module A

Week 2: Teaching Module B

Week 3: Teaching Module C

Week 4: Teaching Module D

The information is really extensive and on completion, the patients can make an informed decision as to whether they want to carry on with the HAART programme or not and with the guidance of the doctor they can decide on which medication they can take.

Due to the fact that we have been even more busy and inundated with work since starting our ARV roll-out and also because this is such an intense and complicated programme, with patient monitoring of utmost importance, our costs have increased dramatically. Through the SACBC and CRSC the USA Government have agreed to pay for the blood tests, the ARV medication and for some of the personnel and transport expenses.

However, there are many additional costs such as stationery, printing, photocopying, media equipment for the ARV drug readiness courses, opportunistic infections prophylaxis, home based care, training of therapeutic counsellors, employing an extra Professional Nurse and more caregivers to cope with the increased patient load in the Hospice (while patients are treated for the side effects of the ARV drugs) and increased costs involved in caring for many more inpatients, even if some of them do not qualify for the HAART programme, but are still in need of palliative care.

This is an extremely worthwhile programme as we are able to give the mothers back to the children, the children back to their parents and the fathers can continue in their traditional role as breadwinners.

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 24 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:23