“We want our patients to know that they can restart treatment and come back to care anytime.” Dr Diana Mokoena

17 September marks World Patient Safety Day, a day to raise global awareness on the issues that patients come across. The biggest issue in the past 18 months, has been the lack of access to the clinics because of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Anova Health Institute launched an aggressive campaign to welcome patients back to care. Amanda Ndlangisa speaks to Dr Diana Mokoena, APACE/Johannesburg Programme Manager about the Welcome Back Campaign.

Please tell us about the Welcome Back campaign.

We noted that many of our patients had been disrupted from collecting their ARVs and other chronic medications as a result of the pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions. People were scared of coming to clinics initially because they were worried about catching Corona virus; some were unsure if they could return after being off their treatment. We wanted our patients to know that they can restart and come back to care after interrupting their treatment; that we won’t judge them or punish them for interrupting treatment; that we wanted to support them to get back on track and take control of their health. We have used radio as the main medium for spreading the message far and wide. Our community outreach teams also use posters, banners and leaflets when they’re out to spread the message. We also have posters, leaflets and staff t-shirts, masks and caps with the same message so that people in and outside of facilities can see and hear the message

Why did you decide to do this campaign?

The Covid pandemic disrupted so much of our lives, so much was unknown about this disease initially and there was a lot that felt like it was out of our control and chaotic. We thought a fresh start would be good for the year 2021, we saw it as an opportunity to empower our patients and communities to take back control of their own health and restart a journey to good health on their own terms.

Why the name “Welcome Back”?

It’s warm and non-judgmental, it’s inviting. It encompasses our intentions and our message of hope perfectly.

How is the campaign going so far? 

Quite well, the radio adverts and interviews have been well received. Many patients have reached out to us on WhatsApp and other mediums after hearing the radio messages for assistance with getting back onto care

What are the future plans for the campaign?

There is a need to continue the radio campaigns for a few more months, thereafter we need to explore how we can use our social media channels to spread the message as well as existing community-based platforms to engage with our patients and communities closer.

 

We understand that going to your clinic might be scary for you but we’re here to remind you that we have created welcoming spaces in our facilities to welcome you back to care, and our clinics are safe. If you have stopped going to the clinic to screen, test or get your medication, we would like to invite you back to care.

 Visit your local clinic to get back on treatment. #WorldPatientSafetyDay

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