SELECTED: NERCHA Prevention Coordinator Ntombifuthi Dennis.
Each year, senior-level nursing students from the California State University, San Marcos School of Nursing are invited to observe local nurses and doctors providing patient care for communities severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland, Lesotho, and Botswana.
This year, 13 students and three faculty members will partner with the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force and Swaziland Hospice at Home for a unique opportunity to learn about providing palliative care in a resource-limited setting. While the students fund their own travel to Swaziland, the faculty who teach palliative care skills are supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Department of Defence HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme (DHAPP).
This experience will teach students to learn to adapt and care for patients without relying on cutting-edge medical equipment and sometimes even without the most basic of amenities. In turn, the local communities will benefit as the group of student nurses bring donated medical supplies and over-the-counter medicines to help stock the shelves at the clinics, which typically have little inventory due to the high demand.
Since the programme’s inception, the California State University San Marcos School of Nursing has sponsored five trips for nursing students to serve in Africa.
The US DHAPP programme has provided over E60 million ($6 million) in support to the USDF’s efforts against HIV/AIDS. The programme focuses on prevention, HIV testing and counselling and monitoring and evaluation.