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‘Don’t just give us condoms’

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Nomvelo Chalumbira
August21/ 2017

Some Wits female students would like to Campus Health to offer more services, at an affordable price.

Some Wits female students are not satisfied with Campus Health and Wellness Centre (CHWC), saying its services are expensive and too limited. They would like to see a variety of services, and the availability of specialists.

Third-year BA Social Work student, Keitumetse Fatimata Moutloatse, says she is against the “commodification” of health services for women, especially for poor black female students who cannot afford adequate and basic health care.

She says it is incomprehensible that services such as contraception are free, and yet students have to pay for a pap smear or a vaccination. “There are many times I have left Campus Health because I have to pay R50 for a service and I don’t have it,” said Moutloatse.

Second-year biological sciences student, Yoland Tshoba, said, “I have ovarian cysts, which can affect your [fertility]. When I went to Campus Health I needed an X-ray to [check the cysts] but it wasn’t there. So someone who doesn’t have medical health or the funds for a public facility then where do you go? Campus Health is not suffi ciently equipped for issues beyond getting a pill and consultations for reproductive health.”

The CHWC head of department, Sister Anne Moloi, is aware of the limitations of their services. “The services we provide are not enough and that is why we refer patients to specialists like the [gynaecologists]. We don’t get help from the Department of Health except for condoms, contraceptives and basic medication. The budget we get from the university is exhausted by June.” CHWC is looking to do more to improve the health of female students with the capacity it has. In September it will run a pap smear campaign and, in October, breast cancer awareness month, offer free breast examinations for all those coming for contraceptives.

“The whole of September we are running a campaign to encourage all women to do a pap smear. I am still asking for funding from the CCDU HIV programme for those who can’t afford to pay R155 for the pap smear,” said Sister Moloi. However, according to another second-year biological sciences student, Nothemba Belle, sometimes female students are not aware of where and how to access services that are available on campus. She said she had only recently found out while standing in line for HIV testing at the mobile clinic, that Campus Health does off er pap smears, albeit for a fee.

Naledi Matsaneng, a third-year medical student, does not entirely agree that the CHWC is not doing enough and says women should take the initiative to monitor their own health. “More than anything people don’t really monitor their health and if people could get that aspect right, then it could really change a lot of things – because by the time you realise [something is wrong] then that illness has already progressed to a state that you need to see a doctor. There are support structures but people sometimes don’t take the opportunity,” said Matseneng, who also said sometimes people are embarrassed to talk about their health issues.

 

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Nomvelo Chalumbira