Centre for Communication Impact

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Partners get together to talk about health and wellness

The USAID's Groenkloof office in Pretoria was a hive of activity when its employees and partners working on health related projects gathered for the annual open day.<--break->

The day saw USAID employees and various team members from USAID-funded projects in South Africa get together to talk about their activities from the communities where they work and engage on issues of health, HIV and more recently medical male circumcision.

USAID's Olga Mashia, who helped organised the event, said the day provides an opportunity for staff to talk about health and wellness. "This day serves as a reminder that as much as our teams focus on community health, they too should take time to look at their own health, USAID cares about its workforce hence we get together every year to talk about issues that affect us and our families."

Joining in this year's event were USAID partners - Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa which developed and implements men's health and lifestyles campaign, Brothers For Life, Foundation for Professional Development and University Research Council.

The day-long event featured presentations that took the audiences through the partners' activities in the fight against HIV and general health issues and a Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) video showing a client under-going the procedure.

Also on offer, was Brothers for Life's exhibition stand, which offered employees more information on MMC and the other offerings by the men's campaign.

USAID Southern African Deputy Mission Director Littleton Tazewell, commended the work done by Brothers For Life and partners in their quest to get all men circumcised, as an effort to reduce the HIV infection in South Africa.

"I'm very impressed by the energy and partnership that exist here especially in the area of HIV".

HIV testing was also done, in addition to formal discussions around partners' activities on site.

Tazewell, who had a busy day with back to back meetings; managed to get a moment and took an HIV test on the day.

Asked why he felt that he should take an HIV test - Tazewell said, "You test for HIV constantly so that you know your status' which helps in changing your behaviour and attitude regardless of the outcome".

He also commended the government's HCT campaign in that about 20 million know their status in South Africa.

JHHESA Programme manager Mogale Mashiapata, who had one-on-one sessions with some men, says that t MMC service is free and is available to men and "it's not just about the total removal of foreskin to get all the health benefits, but it is crucial to also test for HIV and use condoms all the time."

"We had a busy day talking to men about the Brothers For Life campaign and what it means to be a Brother For Life. Our one-on-one sessions with men were mainly on HIV prevention and the medical male circumcision."

"In my discussion with men, I have no doubt that we will see more adult men turning-up for the MMC service. The video has also made it easy for them to see how its done.MMC is just a removal of foreskin which has a lot of health benefits," explains Mashipata.

After spending the day listening to various experts in the health arena, the day was summed up with lots of energy by Virgin Active, who took the audience to a session of body exercise dance - Zumba.