Epicentre’s Take


Epicentre News • 19 May 2020


he worldwide battle against COVID-19 cases and the increase in infection rates in South Africa have left many people questioning what will happen next. Experts have speculated that COVID-19 may become the new seasonal flu, but what does this mean for South Africa?

The increase in cases in South Africa, with no apparent end in sight, brings even greater vulnerability to those with pre-existing health conditions. With it comes a need to embrace the future of health in the electronic age and South Africa’s wealth of experience in dealing with pandemics.

Our Main Pandemic is Still HIV

In South Africa, approximately eight million people are HIV positive. That means 1 in 4 people in our country are living with HIV for the rest of their lives. Of these 8 million, 3 million are currently not on any treatment. This is frightening considering although roughly 90% of that 3 million already know their status, many are endangering themselves and others due to economic and social barriers like transport costs and stigma – which still marks many South Africans who are seen going to the clinic for HIV treatment.

The lockdown has given these South Africans an opportunity. It is of utmost urgency that those who are HIV positive get on ARVs. There is, unfortunately, no conclusive evidence on how COVID-19 will affect those with HIV. What is known though, is that treatment will help their immune system as it is evident that those with compromised immune systems are at a much higher risk of contracting the virus, that they will take longer to recover, and they likely could contract a more serious form of the virus.

Our president also stands by the notion that it is of utmost importance that these citizens be adequately informed and protected against COVID-19. It cannot be more strongly suggested that these South Africans feel the urgency to move onto ARVs.

The Private & Public Sectors Team UP

Epicentre is drawing from its wealth of experience to push back against paper-based systems which are hampering our government’s ability to keep up with this crisis. Due to the HIV crisis companies like Epicentre have experienced resounding success with electronic surveys technology which aided in their household surveying in projects like DREAMs and HIPPS. Using systems like Redcap, on affordable and portable tablets, has revolutionized the way data is collected and shared, speeding up the viewing of results from years to weeks.

This kind of software is critical in a fast-moving crisis like COVID-19. Our Departments of Health need to be able to track the virus in real-time and easily share information across the country as the crisis continues to heat up. This is why Epicentre has offered to help with overhauling the Pietermaritzburg Department of Health’s communications and offers their services to any other province should they request it.

Epicentre Taking on COVID Testing

Epicentre, an NGO with 20 years of experience working nationally in testing and linking HIV positive South Africans to care, is exploring multiple solutions to this problem.

Epicentre is a soon to be ISO 13485 accredited institution and we want to make diseases prevention accessible to everyone. That’s why we will provide the correct COVID-19 testing in connection with leading medical aids at reasonable prices across country, in Johannesburg, Cape Town, & Durban.

Epicentre has been in touch with its partners across the country and noted a drastic surge in the number of infections, this leaves many hospitals at risk of becoming congested. We know that hospitals simply cannot afford to waste resources on those that do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19. With this in mind, Epicentre will soon be launching their self-administered testing in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg.

Epicentre Testing Will Be:
  • Clear Structured Testing Process

  • All Inclusive Reasonable Pricing

  • Test Facilitated by a Trained Nurse

  • Testing for Communities, Individuals, Families, Organizations, & Businesses

We will be using our new website to provide an easy to use system to pay for a Coronavirus test kits to be delivered and collected from your home. A trained nurse will screen you and facilitate the testing process. Your swab will then be taken to a lab we have partnered with and your results will be communicated to you by a professional at the lab.

The joint efforts between NGOs like Epicentre and the Public sector are desperately needed if we hope to gain control of this virus. South Africa needs to remember that we are not alone. We have the expertise and the necessary resources. Using a collaborated response together we can take on far more than we ever could divided. Using our experience with pandemics is a strength not many other countries can rival.