Philisanani Health Club

Philisanani is an indigenous non-profit organization based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town in South Africa that is dedicated to improving the health and social conditions of people living in both formal and informal settlements. Founded in 2007, Philisanani was created by members of a health club started by Savior Maqualoti who was trained by Africa AHEAD in the CHC approach in 2005. Members of Philisanani are engaged in a variety of activities aimed at improving the lives of people living in Khayelitsha, including home-based care for the elderly and ill (particularly for HIV/AIDS and TB) as well as the development of youth groups and crèches. Philisanani is currently collaborating with Africa AHEAD to train additional members in the CHC approach so as to develop Health Clusters throughout Khayelitsha. Their vision is to provide immediate assistance to those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS, as well as to develop a more sustainable holistic approach to enable people to manage their own health, so as to contribute to better health for all in Cape Town.

Philisanani Community Health Club is an active group of community health workers dedicated to developing a ‘culture of health’ in their community by providing a regular forum for learning about disease prevention, encouraging safe hygiene practices and providing social support to the vulnerable and disadvantaged, thereby addressing the underlying determinants of good health. In August 2005, the present Project Coordinator, Saviour Maqaloti, was trained as a Community Health Club facilitator at a workshop arranged by the University of the Western Cape in conjunction with the Health Department of Khayelitsha and the Khayelitsha Water and Sanitation Forum. This training was facilitated by Africa AHEAD, the organization which has initiated this approach to community mobilization in South Africa.

The objective of the project was to start Community Health Clubs in Khayelitsha, with a view to reducing the levels of child morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoea and other diseases that can be prevented through good home hygiene. Philisanani Health Club was formed as a response to that training and was registered in October 2007 with WC-NACOSA. The group has now initiated a range of voluntary activities directly assisting over 55 families.

Home Hygiene Training

Thanks to the leadership of the Project Coordinator who mobilized a group of 81 concerned and determined individuals from Khayelitsha,  the club has been the best success story of the project. In September 2006, at their first AGM, they officially formed as a group. They have managed to meet weekly for over a year and complete 20 sessions of home hygiene education. Certificates of completion were awarded to 25 health club members in January 2008 by Africa AHEAD. The project coordinator has recently assisted Africa AHEAD as facilitator in the second workshop to train other Community Health Club facilitators in informal settlements; Philisanani is therefore providing a good example for other health clubs.

Nursing Assistants

In the past year there have been 45 Philisanani members who have offered their services voluntarily in clinics and assisted when the nurses were on strike. At present there are 15 regular volunteers, two of which have been given full time jobs, (Tygerburg and Zakhele clinic). Other members have engaged in door-to-door health promotion to educate community members in personal hygiene as well as the use of safe water and good sanitation. Philisanani has a good working record and reputation with Facility Managers, Sisters-In-Charge, doctors and health authorities, all of which now regularly call on Philisanani when volunteers are needed.

Home based Care for old people

Mrs Patricia Mondli, who was trained in Home Care and Rehabilitation in 1998, was moved by the plight of elderly impoverished people living without support in Khayelitsha. She arranged a group of 26 volunteers from Philisanani to visit those pensioners identified as needing assistance in her area. They go door-to-door offering a variety of services: bathing, cleaning and arranging their rooms, preparing porridge, ensuring that they receive their medications and take them correctly, collecting their pensions to prevent exploitation by relatives, and offering council and social support. In general, these volunteers visit five households every day. Second hand clothes, soap and food have been collected and distributed. They hope to start an ‘old folks home’, where the pensioners can be housed together in safety and provided with continuous care.

Youth Group Sessions in life skills

Mrs Nozibela Nobongoza, a teacher in the group, felt worried about the lack of guidance available to young people in Khaylitsha. Due to a lack of information and adult supervision, many youth ultimately fall into drug abuse or early pregnancies. She now facilitates a weekly youth meeting with 20 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 20 years. They are taught about the dangers of unprotected sex, good home hygiene, cooking and care of children, together with Christian values that will increase their self esteem and provide mutual support system, enabling them to survive the many dangers of township life in Khayelitsha.

Creche for working mothers

Carey is another of Philisanani member who now contributes to her community on a voluntary basis. She looks after 10 children (from a 3 month old baby to 5 years of age), enabling young mothers in Khaylethsa to earn a living. Parents contribute R50 per month and the children are cared for in a secure and loving environment. However, at present, they have no facilities or toys and are wanting to find a larger area with play ground.

The office for Philisanani is based at the Resource Centre Library in Khayelitsha and a bank account has been opened at First National Bank for the organization. Other organizations that provide mentoring and training for Philisanani are SANCO and Africa AHEAD (Applied Health Education and Development).