It started sometime in 2017 when our community began to suffer from a scabies outbreak in the region. Scabies are a microscopic mite that will multiply and infest all your clothes, bedding and household furniture. By the beginning of this year, the problem was starting to grow quite significantly in the region: the doctors at Zithulele hospital told us that they had had at least one child die from complications from the infection that developed into a sepsis from the sores. This had led to organ failure and the young child died. The households in our area that were badly infected were in a terrible situation with the children covered in terrible sores and adults itching and scratching all the time with no hope. Visits to the clinics resulted in the receipt of a topical solution which doesn’t help much because everything is continually re-infested: blankets, grass mats, clothing etc. The local hospitals and clinics were completely powerless to address the problem effectively. All they could do was try to address the symptoms and hand out the topical creams.

The problem could only be eradicated with the dedicated work of our Homebased Care team who tackled it with village by village and door to door work: 76 severe infestations were solved. The process was intense: each household received a visit date on which they had to be ready with pots of boiling water. The Homebased Carers would then visit in teams of 5 or 6, assist the household with washing all items of clothing, blankets, grass mats, furniture etc. after which the topical cream would be applied. That day’s clothing would be tied up in black bags and over the next 3 days the household would be visited for ongoing assistance. On the fourth day the items in the black bag from Day 1 would be washed and the rest of the the items would be replaced in the household with all items fresh and the scabies gone!

Health e-news have visited to write a “Success Story”. This will be strong advocacy for the importance of Community Health Workers: a case in point of where the public health system had no hope of solving the problem by itself. See story here: