Sister Liza: South Africa

My name is Sister Liza. I am the head nurse at the Tlaseng Health Clinic in Rustenburg, South Africa, a city northwest of Johannesburg. I have been working at Tlaseng since 1997.

HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are very big problems here and our clinic is extremely busy. We serve about 12,000 people from the community, including many orphans and vulnerable children. The clinic is open 12 hours a day and I see about 60 patients each day. There are only five nurses working here, but we try our very best despite the staff shortage. In fact, Tlaseng recently received an award from the Department of Health for best-performing clinic in the Rustenburg area.

Many of the pregnant women who come to our clinic are HIV-positive. In August 2010, another Tlaseng nurse and I attended a training program on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, which was sponsored by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. We learned about the new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for PMTCT, and how to follow those guidelines with our own patients. We have benefitted a lot from this training. Last year, 63 pregnant mothers tested HIV-positive at Tlaseng. Of the 63 babies born to those mothers, only three contracted HIV.

I hope that someday all babies born to HIV-positive mothers will be free of HIV.

In addition to hosting training programs like the one I attended, the Foundation also supports our local community-based organizations through in-kind donations and trainings. These organizations provide many essential services to the community, and they help me and the other nurses at Tlaseng to do our jobs better. They help us to reach people who are struggling with HIV, TB, and other serious illnesses. Staff works extremely hard – raising awareness, educating the community about HIV and TB, tracing HIV-positive patients who have missed their appointments for three months or more, and assisting orphans who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS. They also visit patients in their homes on a daily basis to care for them and to help deliver and administer medications.

The Foundation supports these organizations by donating school uniforms for orphans, computers, furniture, appliances, and other items that the organizations need to achieve their missions. I am very grateful for that support.

I would like to thank the Foundation for acting as a “mother figure” when there is a need for one in our community.