New educators deployed to Eersterust

Cllr MMC for health Rina Marx and 30 peer educators at Eersterus. Picture: Supplied

Cllr MMC for health Rina Marx and 30 peer educators at Eersterus. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 23, 2024


The community of Eersterust has 30 new peer educators, trained on the dangers associated with drug and substance abuse.

The initiative is part of the Community Orientated Substance Use Programme, run by the City of Tshwane in partnership with the University of Pretoria.

MMC for Health in Tshwane Rina Marx said the programme was a harm-reduction initiative informed by scientific evidence that is aimed at addressing drug and substance abuse.

She said the objectives of this programme were to prevent, treat, rehabilitate and reintegrate people affected by substance abuse through community-orientated primary care intervention.

“Those in need of assistance are serviced at 16 operating sites across the city," she said.

The reach to communities is expanded through street medicine and street therapy to service those who are unable to visit the sites.

According to UP's Ronald Mosweu, the collaboration works in partnership with a range of government and university departments and third-sector organisations, including the Gauteng Department of Health, the university's Department of Social Work and Criminology, Out and the Tshwane Leadership Forum.

“The project is being implemented in the City of Tshwane, and if effective, could be rapidly scaled up,” he said.

Trainees were taken through the different types of drugs and related effects, factors enabling substance abuse, harm and demand reduction and the stigma attached to substance abuse.

Marx further said once empowered, the peer educators would use their newly acquired knowledge to help strengthen awareness in their respective communities about the dangers associated with substance abuse.

In 2022, the MMC initiated training interventions to community patrollers in the metro’s Region 1.

She highlighted that the City of Tshwane is the first and only municipality in South Africa to promote services that are proven to reduce drug-related risks and harm to people who use drugs and for the communities in which they live.

In those services, Marx included providing and funding services for people who use drugs, including those who may not want to or be able to stop using drugs, and the support and funding of disease prevention services for people who inject drugs.

This includes opioid substitution therapy and the provision and collection of sterile injecting equipment, which reduces infections, like HIV and hepatitis C, as well as the health burden on the individual and wider community.

“Our upcoming peer educators are being empowered to make a positive impact in their respective communities," she added.

Pretoria News

Lesego Montso