Celebrating International Nurses Day 12 May 2024: Meet the heroic nurses dedicated to ending the spread of HIV in Mpumalanga.

Celebrating International Nurses Day 12 May 2024: Meet the heroic nurses dedicated to ending the spread of HIV in Mpumalanga.
Celebrating International Nurses Day 12 May 2024: Meet the heroic nurses dedicated to ending the spread of HIV in Mpumalanga.

Celebrating International Nurses Day 12 May 2024: Meet the heroic nurses dedicated to ending the spread of HIV in Mpumalanga.

9 May 2024 – This International Nurses Day (12 May) the global theme of the day is “Our Nurses. Our Future. The Economic Power of Care.” In celebration of this day in South Africa, we turn the spotlight on the heroic nurses of rural Mpumalanga who have dedicated their lives to ending the spread of HIV in the province and achieving health equity for the well-being of their communities.

“The role of nurses is much more than just physical care – especially when it comes to HIV prevention, treatment and care in our communities. Whilst all healthcare workers play a critical part in the health ecosystem, our nurses are often the first and most consistent point of interaction for patients on the grassroots level. Nurses are seen as the backbone of the health services in our communities,” says Goodman Ntshangase, BroadReach Health Development’s Acting District Director of Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga, South Africa. This is one of the districts where BroadReach delivers public healthcare in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Health (DoH). Their brigades of local nurses and other health workers have been working deep in local communities for the past 17 years.

The impact of their work has been profound. In the Nkangala and Gert Sibande districts where they started working in 2018, 1 520 people were initially put on HIV prevention medicine PrEP and that number has grown to 30 094 in the last year, saving thousands of lives.

“We are immensely proud to support the dedicated nurses of Mpumalanga, alongside their counterparts across South Africa, in their relentless efforts to curb HIV transmission. This partnership exemplifies the strength and success of community-focused healthcare initiatives. Nurses are not only on the front lines of medical services but also the cornerstone of building resilient health systems. Their unwavering commitment to the health of their communities is instrumental in achieving our shared vision of a healthier, HIV-free future for all,” says Leslie Marbury, USAID Southern Africa Mission Director.

Mother-to-child (perinatal) transmissions have also halved in this five-year period, thanks to the interventions in facilities and communities, which encourage mothers to take their life-saving antiretrovirals (ARVs) every day. Five years ago when the nurses started working with the community, 251 HIV+ infants required ARVs but through their intervention the number has halved – proving the effectiveness of ARVs in protecting babies from HIV infection.

“To give you some context,” says Ntshangase, “just over 20 years ago when HIV treatment became available, the task of giving ARV drugs to patients shifted from only doctors, who were in short supply, to nurses as well. That was a massive game-changer for our HIV+ community members.”

“Today nurses remain the backbone of the implementation of the very successful ARV programme in South Africa, where in total we have 5.8 million people on treatment in the country, making it the largest programme in the world. This is a great example of how the nurse’s role within a programme can have such great impact on the community.”

Shining the spotlight on three dedicated Mpumalanga nurses

Meet Dipuo Makofane, Cluster Team Lead in the Nkangala (Witbank) District of Mpumalanga:

Dipuo Makofane
Dipuo Makofane

“Growing up I always knew I wanted to become a nurse, the love was brought by my late father, who was also a nurse. Not having any memory of the kind of person he was, as he passed on when I was about three years old, the stories of his contributions as a nurse gave me the courage that he will forever live in me, and I will forever stay in contact with what he pursued as a young man.”

Makofane says it was incredible to see, coming from an African medicine context, how the community embraced her as a positive “change agent”. “I have built a trusting relationship by ensuring confidentiality at all costs. I continue serving the underserved knowing the mission is greater than myself.”

On a normal day, her tasks vary from “checking if all cadres reported for duty, to reviewing the previous day’s work, planning for current day’s activities, and fast-tracking patients who need urgent care.”

Meet Ntando Godfrey Nkosi, Cluster team lead in Gert Sibande (Ermelo) District of Mpumalanga:

Ntando Godfrey Nkosi
Ntando Godfrey Nkosi

“I was drawn to the nursing career because of the diverse opportunities it offers. It is a perfect combination of science and compassion. This career also lets me connect with people personally and it improves my relationships in the community.”

Nkosi admits that the life of a trained nurse can be physically, emotionally and mentally challenging, and it requires problem-solving skills in the community. It is, however, greatly rewarding.

He tells this touching story: “A pregnant woman came into the consulting room I was in and tested HIV positive for the first time in her life. We spent about an hour in counselling together. It was difficult to accept, and you could hear other patients outside the door whispering that the lady was wasting their time. But with proper counselling the lady started ARVs the same day and 10 months later she gave the baby my name, “Ntando”. The baby’s results were HIV negative. She was excited. It humbles me to protect the future of young South Africans and to see women like her taking charge of their health.”

“To my fellow nurses, keep up the good work and happy Nurses Day!”

Meet Bongani Sindane, Cluster team lead in eMalahleni (Witbank) District of Mpumalanga:

Bongani Sindane
Bongani Sindane

“I chose a career in nursing mainly because I found it rewarding to be able to do something good for others, especially patients. Treating patients in a friendly and respectful manner goes a long way. Growing up at an orphanage has inspired me to be a nurse and I found my place as a Professional Nurse.”

Sindane loves taking care of the less privileged individuals – it was a childhood dream. “Knowing that with my care, my touch, my voice, and my time, I can help a patient get through the night is one of the most rewarding feelings. The small things you do for someone can make a difference. Nursing has opened many doors for me like acquiring an LLB in Compliance Management and Masters in Labour Law. I love working in this field especially in HIV/TB management as it is what I specialised in.”

“I love helping patients and their families and giving them the reassurance that they can overcome anything. Through my work at BroadReach and (providing tactical support to the) Department of Health, I have helped patients maintain their dignity during the most vulnerable times in their lives, ensuring that they have access to our health services. It is always an honour to reach out to so many patients.”

Sindane believes nursing is a calling. “It can be physically and mentally taxing at times… but also give one an incredible sense of satisfaction and pride at the end of the day.”

Working at the community level, Sindane finds joy in the hope that ARVs provide in his community. “Doing home deliveries and reaching out to index contacts has been a great achievement for me. Nurses benefit the communities they serve, and we need to recognise their true value. Nurses risked their lives to care for patients and protect their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was one of those who risked my life to save lives.”

His role also extends to the coaching and mentoring of DoH staff in the district and the coordination and support of the team. “I always ensure that health system strengthening models, initiatives, protocols, and policies are implemented by covered facilities and that facility staff continually identify and address clinical and non-medical issues, promoting the 95-95-95 HIV and TB Agenda for Adults and Children.”

The 95-95-95 target refers to the United Nations goal to have 95% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 95% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 95% of all people on treatment having a well-managed and suppressed viral load.


About BroadReach Group and HIV:

BroadReach Group is a group of social impact businesses focused on harnessing innovation and technology to empower human action. Since 2003 BroadReach Group has worked in over 30 countries to support governments, international NGOs, public and private sector to improve health outcomes for their populations.

BroadReach has been at the forefront of developing innovative approaches to improve the outcome of people living with HIV and TB for more than 17 years. For example, currently in South Africa, as part of the PEPFAR-funded, USAID program, Accelerating Program Achievements to Control the Epidemic (APACE), BroadReach Health Development supports the South African Government in achieving the UNAIDS “95-95-95” targets towards HIV epidemic control. BroadReach implements APACE in two HIV-burdened districts of Mpumalanga, covering 203 fixed and mobile facilities. For more information visit www.broadreachcorporation.com