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MEC launches safer sex campaign

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“Each time you or your partner have sex without protection, be reminded that you will no longer be having safe sex and will both be at risk of contracting the virus or STIs.”

AS PART of creating awareness about the dangers of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and unplanned pregnancy in society, Northern Cape Health MEC Mase Manopole launched a massive campaign at Dithakong in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District yesterday.

The event was attended by over 800 members of the Joe Morolong Municipality community, including members of the House of Traditional Leaders and representatives from the local municipality.

The theme of the launch was “Communities Make a Difference”, and was derived from World Aids Day 2019, calling upon all members of the community to make a difference by taking a meaningful role in transforming society for better health and social outcomes.

According to the Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Lebogang Majaha, the National Antenatal Survey report of 2017 shows that only 38.9% of pregnant women aged 15 to 19 years in the Northern Cape knew their HIV status prior to pregnancy.

“Our Province has also been negatively affected by 3 878 new cases of male urethritis syndrome, which is caused by gonorrhoea and accounts for approximately 70% of the cases, while 20 to 25% cases are as a result of chlamydial infection. This picture shows that 1 251 of these episodes are in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District.”

During her address, Manopole pointed out that the message was very simple. “Each time you or your partner have sex without protection, be reminded that you will no longer be having safe sex and will both be at risk of contracting the virus or STIs.

“Therefore, each time you have sex, choose to use a condom. Sex with a condom is considered safe sex, as long as you are using the condom correctly and are using it with your partner.”

Manopole added that STIs and condom awareness remained an integral part of the public health campaign. “Breast cancer, along with cervical cancer, has been identified as a key priority in our Province and is a leading cause of deaths among women in our country.”

Manopole further committed to intensify the health screening and HPV campaigns in schools.

She also used the opportunity to announce the B-Wise initiative. This is an interactive cellphone health platform aimed at empowering adolescents and youth to make the right choices based on accurate information.

The primary target is young people between the ages of 10 to 24 years, both in and out of school. Secondary targets include health care providers, parents, teachers and other partners. She urged adolescents and youth to register on the network/App.

With regards to creating awareness on pregnancy, Manopole highlighted that although pregnancy was a normal phenomenon, hypertension, obstetric haemorrhage and HIV were the main cause of death among pregnant women.

“The department has come up with mechanisms to prevent death, including a programme where all pregnant women are urged to book for antenatal care before 20 weeks in order to identify the complications early and treat them promptly.”