Ebola project

Brave SA medical heroes depart this week to treat Ebola in Sierra Leone

Monday, 19 January 2015:  Right to Care has recruited and trained the first round of healthcare professionals to work in Sierra Leone as part of the SA initiative with the Department of Health and the Wits Health Consortium for the Ebola Emergency Response. Additional healthcare workers are sought to join envisaged missions.

Time Magazine nominated Ebola fighters as Person of the Year for 2014 for good reason. The disease has struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers weakening infrastructure in the three countries where it is most prominent, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The latest World Health Organisation statistics state there have been more than 21 000 reported cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and more than 8300 deaths. 678 healthcare workers are known to have contracted Ebola and 382 have died. Sierra Leone is the epicenter of the epidemic with more than
10 000 known cases. Ebola has a fatality rate as high as 71%.

The WHO director-general declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as a public health emergency of international concern. A coordinated international response is essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola.

Much is being done to stop the spread including providing safe, dignified burials by trained burial teams as the disease often spreads through unsafe burial practices. Communities are also encouraged to isolate and treat patients with symptoms.

Says Dr Pappie Majuba, Chief Medical Officer at Right to Care, “Whilst South Africa has no reported Ebola cases, the experiences these healthcare workers gain, will be extremely valuable in fighting Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.”

One medical officer and ten professional nurses have been trained in readiness for deployment into one of two Ebola treatment centres. The treatment centres provide a “tent” work environment, with very high standards of infection control. The medical professionals will receive a salary, full training, flights, transfers, per diems, travel insurance and housing and are repatriated should they of the disease.

Recruitment and training of healthcare workers will be on an ongoing basis every two weeks and additional doctors, nurses and paramedics are being sought to join the next mission. The healthcare professionals stay in country for eight weeks and when they return to South Africa they may not work for a further three weeks.

Dr Majuba continues, “The healthcare staff work under high safety precautionary conditions in the Ebola treatment centre.   The ‘protective clothing’ which is worn comprises three layers of protection which includes  gloves, boots and headgear and those wearing it work for no longer than 90 minute shifts as it is extremely hot.  Infection control measures are extraordinary within the centres therefore the risk of contracting Ebola there is low. Interestingly, the risk is when people venture outside the treatment centres.

Right to Care, has contributed R3 million to the initiative with a coordination manager currently based in Sierra Leone, and the organisation is therefore able  to create more rapid systems to confirm cases in the country’s laboratories.

Right to Care is working with the South African initiative of the Department of Health. Right to Care has a MOU with the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone and the NICD which have set up a laboratory in Sierra Leone that includes staff training.  

FirstRand (FNB) has committed to paying for transport, international flights and transfers for this medical intervention. The private sector has also contributed to this initiative.

About Right to Care

Right to Care is a non-profit organisation (Section 21) that supports and delivers prevention, care, and treatment services for HIV and associated diseases.

Through technical assistance, Right to Care supports the Department of Health at national level. Support at provincial level is provided primarily in five provinces: Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Western Cape, and Free State. In addition, through direct service delivery, Right to Care treats patients for HIV, TB, cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted infections.

Support for clinical programmes is delivered through development of clinical best practices, research, training, mentoring, participation in technical committees, provision of facilities and equipment, and secondment of staff, among others services.

Funding and revenue

The chief funding and revenue streams are:

  • The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), managed by USAID
  • Global Fund
  • Private-sector donors
  • Revenue from the private sector for provision of employee wellness services (through Right to Care Health Services)

HIV care and treatment

Right to Care’s Adult HIV and Paediatric HIV programmes support the clinical care and treatment of individuals infected with HIV and associated diseases. Care and treatment is accessible through an integrated model that includes prevention, transition into care, treatment adherence, and nurse initiated and managed ARV treatment (NIMART). Loss-to-follow-up is minimised using innovative approaches, such as automated text messages and patient transfers with electronic records.

On-site and didactic training are provided to clinicians in the public and private sectors. In each province, centres of excellence are hubs for mentoring and training and for referrals of complicated cases.

In its first ten years of operation, Right to Care initiated over 230 000 patients on ARV therapy.


Right to Care’s TB programme provides integrated TB/HIV services for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB. Components of Right to Care’s TB strategy include use of the ‘‘3 Is’’: Intensified case finding; INH Preventative Therapy (IPT); and Infection control in health facilities.

TB symptom screening is done at all healthcare visits. Sputum induction facilities reduce by 10% the number of patients who cannot produce sputum, leading to improved testing rates.

Right to Care has spearheaded the use of the Cepheid GeneXpert MDR TB Rif for rapid diagnosis of TB and of drug resistance.
The diagnosis and management of Multidrug and Extensively Drug-Resistant TB is supported, in particular at Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital, Johannesburg. On an on-going basis, Right to Care collaborates in TB research studies.

Cervical cancer

At present, our most important weapon against cervical cancer is an effective screening and treatment programme to detect and remove early cervical dysplastic lesions. Right to Care trains medical officers to perform colposcopic biopsies and large loop electrical excisions (LLETZ). These cost-effective procedures have resulted in greatly improved access to treatment.

Mobile clinics take screening and treatment services, and other women’s health services, to remote areas.


Right to Care’s prevention programmes include treatment as prevention, medical male circumcision (MMC), HIV counselling and testing (HCT), and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

Right to Care advocates treatment as prevention. Among discordant couples, ARV therapy has been shown to reduce by 90% the rate of transmission from one partner to the other.

Annually Right to Care conducts over 300 000 HIV tests.

Through technical assistance and direct service delivery, Right to Care is supporting the DoH in the delivery of MMC services. MMC is offered as a comprehensive package of services that includes HCT, the provision of condoms, and education for behaviour change. MMC clinics are optimised for high-volumes.

Right to Care’s integrated PMTCT and Maternal & Child Health unit provides technical assistance for prevention for mothers, immunisations, reproductive health services, basic antenatal care, and PMTCT at supported sites.

Pharmacy supply chain management

Right to Care’s pharmacy programme supports the DoH at national, provincial, district, and facility levels. Programme staff members play an important role in the development of pharmaceutical policy. Right to Care supports the Medicines Control Council for the registration of medicines and for the regulation of clinical trials. Right to Care supports the site-level implementation of computerised pharmacy dispensing and information management systems. This includes integration of clinical data systems and pharmacy management systems.

Right to Care Health Services

Right to Care Health Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Right to Care, offers organisations a comprehensive integrated wellness programme. The programme includes health and wellness screening, health risk assessments, management of chronic diseases, psychological counselling, legal and financial counselling, primary and occupational healthcare services, executive wellbeing, absenteeism, and incapacity and disability management. Clients are provided with comprehensive and integrated reports on all aspects of employee healthcare.


Right to Care’s Training Department develops staff knowledge and skills in order to improve the capacity to provide quality HIV care, treatment, and support. Training courses covering a broad range of clinical subjects are offered to healthcare providers of supported sites. Didactic training is follow up with on-site mentoring.

Skills programmes are conducted for lay counsellors and for non-clinical staff.

Corporate governance

Right to Care is governed by a board of directors, of whom two-thirds are non-executive directors. The organisation complies with King III standards of corporate governance.

Right to Care consistently achieves unqualified audits from its auditing firm, Deloitte and Touche.


Our Vision & Mission

Our Vision

That every individual will have ready and affordable access to quality evidence-based medical services

Our Mission

To respond to public health needs by supporting and delivering innovative, quality healthcare solutions, based on the latest medical research and established best practices, for the prevention, treatment, and management of infectious and chronic diseases


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