Itumeleng Kooreme of BOCAIP talks to us about her job as a Healthcare worker

Friday, June 12, 2020

1.     Why did you want to become a community health worker?

So many people out there are suffering, and lack information and knowledge.  As a community health worker, I meet with people one-on-one, I hear about their problems and help solve them.  I show people how to stay safe from COVID-19.  I deliver HIV and TB medication to people’s houses when they need it, which helps them stay on treatment even during this time of coronavirus. 

2.     What do you wish people would do to stay safe from COVID-19?

I wish people would understand and adhere to the rules of COVID-19.  This will help us.  Some people are still using the wrong kind of masks or getting too close to people.  The most important thing people can do is wash their hands regularly with soap and always wear a cloth face covering. 

3.     Why is it so important for faith-based organizations in the country like BOCAIP to lead their communities on issues of health and wellness?

If you have problems, you can go to a faith leader - rather than becoming angry, drinking, forgetting your responsibilities, or abusing others.  The pastor can help.  People living with HIV also really make a difference in their community.  When someone says “I’ve been living on ART for this long.  Look at me.  If I made it, why can’t you?” that is very powerful.  We no longer give out the old messages of fear.  We encourage people now with messages of hope about ARVs and all the good benefits.  This medication is free to everyone, even noncitizens, but it saves lives and prevents HIV from spreading.

4.     Fewer men are on HIV treatment than women, and we won’t end the epidemic unless all men start treatment.  What do you say to men about this?

You must talk to men one-on-one, hear them say they don’t want the treatment because of stigma and because they are afraid people won’t accept them.  You must protect their privacy and tell them that to stay strong, they must start treatment immediately before their body becomes weak.

5.     What is your proudest achievement as a community health worker?

Right now the war against the coronavirus is still on.  It is an honor to be part of the COVID-19 response at this moment.  I want to help people understand we have a pandemic to deal with and we must take it seriously.  My favorite part of my job is helping people.  I am so proud of the passion and energy I am seeing from all the community health workers out here who go out and help their community every day. 

We commend all frontline workers and health workers like Itumeleng for their amazing dedication. Re a leboga! Itshireletse.  

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Last updated: June 30, 2020

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