The Isisombululo Programme: The story behind Inkcubeko
The Isisombululo Programme (IP), funded by the Hasso Plattner Foundation (HPF), is an HIV/AIDS and TB prevention, treatment and care programme which has provided support to the Eden (Garden Route) district since 2003. The programme, managed through the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, was designed to relieve the burden of HIV/AIDS and TB in the Southern Cape area, through strengthening the primary health care system and community based organizations. More specifically, the IP aimed to build community awareness of and support for health care initiatives within HIV/AIDS and TB programmes, strengthen health care services, care for the carer in the context of HIV/AIDS and to develop a greater role for Community Health Workers.
The focus of Phase 1 was on curbing the HIV/AIDS scourge in the entire district and between 2003 and 2009 almost 30 projects were initiated to support HIV/AIDS and TB prevention and treatment services in Eden (Garden Route) district, and included support to several Western Cape Government Health Department (WCG:H) Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) clinics as well as NPO sites for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT). The WCG:H as well as NGOs in the area were supported with infrastructure, training, equipment and staffing costs.
During the second Phase (2010 – 2015) the IP changed direction – from a sole focus on HIV/AIDS and TB to then expanding its efforts to include interventions aimed at the social determinants of health and other ‘root causes’ of the disease burden in the area, such as linking vulnerable people to social, maternal and child health services. In Phase 2, the IP concentrated its efforts on the sub-district of George, and specifically the community of Thembalethu (an impoverished community in George) owing to the large disease burden in the area, hoping to be able to see effects of the programme in a smaller geographical area. In this spirit, an NGO (Ithemba Lobomi) that was established by the IP in 2007 to offer Home and Community Based Care (HCBC) in Thembalethu, launched a project called The Community and Family Support Programme (CFS) in 2011. The CFS Project was developed to provide household based health-, social- and psychological support to empower individuals, families and communities to take care of their wellness.
Phase 3, which was initiated in 2016 and is ongoing, maintains the focus on Thembalethu through continued funding for Ithemba Lobomi. Current projects include their Community Family Support programme as well as new initiatives such as the Community Adherence Support, Care for the Carer projects and a Skills Academy to train community health workers. A significant development in 2017 was the establishment of the Inkcubeko Youth and Science Centre (IYSC). which includes a Science Centre, a Youth Centre and an Adolescent-friendly Health Clinic in Thembalethu, as well as the UCT in Eden Complex in partnership with UCT.
The Inkcubeko Youth and Science Centre (IYSC) operates as a safe place for the youth of the Southern Cape region to explore how the world around them works, igniting curiosity and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Innovation. The centre will host interactive scientific exhibits, enabling the youth to discover and experience complex concepts in a fun, easy to understand and memorable way. The centre will also host learner workshops, curriculum and extracurricular support activities, science clubs and homework hubs. The youth centre aims to transform the lives of the youth and help to embrace hope for a better future. Current activities include chess, entrepreneur and wellness clubs and job readiness workshops. The adolescent clinic aims to serve young people with a caring and professional approach as they mature into adults, focusing on healthy living, family planning, sex education, substance abuse, HIV and AIDs prevention. The external constituencies involved in the IP initiative include the PGWC Departments of Health, Department of Social Development; Western Cape Education Department; the George Municipality; UCT Faculty of Health Sciences; UCT Schools Development Unit; NGOs in the Southern Cape; DST Network of Science Centres, DisChem, and the HPF. The relationship has been based on a joint conceptualisation partnership model with external constituencies focussing on programme development and implementation.