treatment

treatment

  • TB Infections on the Decrease - WHO

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) report has found that the rate of new tuberculosis (TB) infections has decreased internationally, however, about three million infected people escape diagnosis.
     
    WHO TB programme director at WHO Global, Mario Raviglione, states that the quality of TB care is what has driven down millions of TB deaths worldwide.
     
    Raviglione, believes that although the deaths have declined, “…Far too many people are still missing out on such care and are suffering as a result. They are not diagnosed, or not treated, or information on the quality of care they receive is unknown.”
     
    To read article titled, “Three million escape TB diagnosis – WHO,” click here.

    Source: 
    The Citizen
  • Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa: Senior Programmes Manager

    Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, May 31, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa (PATA) is a NGO that supports multidisciplinary treatment teams of health care workers working to improve the quality of paediatric HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa.
     
    PATA works collaboratively with 243 paediatric HIV clinics across 24 sub-Saharan African countries, providing various programmes and serving as a resource to support achievement of their stated goals. The foundation of PATA lies within these paediatric HIV treatment teams who work together at clinics across sub-Saharan Africa to form a community of compassionate and committed individuals who provide treatment and care to children infected with HIV. The fundamental purpose of PATA is to assist these treatment teams to improve the quality of healthcare they are able to deliver to their patients.

    PATA seeks to appoint a full-time Senior Programmes Manager, based at the PATA head office in Cape Town.
     
    The person will assist with the efficient running of PATA programmes.
     
    Responsibilities:
    • Oversee the management of all PATA programmes, including the Expert Patient Programme, Forum Programme, Child-Friendly Clinic Initiative and Building Bridges Mentorship and Twinning Programme;
    • Manage PATA’s research and advocacy portfolios;
    • Expand and develop  existing and novel PATA programmes, portfolios and initiatives;
    • Supervise PATA’s communications, including newsletter production and social media;
    • Direct Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) activities;
    • Proposal writing, report writing and general donor liaison;
    • Manage budgets;
    • Communicate with PATA Steering Committee, Advisory Board, network clinics and frontline health workers;
    • Supervise two Programme Managers;
    • Provide weekly briefing to the Executive Director;
    • Travel to PATA Forums across sub-Saharan Africa.
    Requirements:
    • Honours degree minimum, Master’s degree will be preferred;
    • Excellent writing and communication skills;
    • Highly organised, outstanding attention to detail and delivery-orientated;
    • Motivated, passionate and committed;
    • Ability to work independently and problem-solve;
    • Clean track record;
    • Understanding of organisational dynamics and governance;
    • Own transport;
    • Willingness to travel;
    • South African citizenship or a valid South African work permit;
    • Fluency in French or Portuguese language advantageous but not necessary;
    • Programme and staff management experience essential;
    • Research, advocacy, communications, M&E and fundraising experience advantageous.
    To apply, submit a CV, contact details of two referees and motivation letter to michele@teampata.org.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

    For more about the Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa, refer to www.teampata.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Clinton Health Access Initiative: Programmer - Health Financing

    Clinton Health Access Initiative
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, May 27, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI – formerly the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative) under the leadership of former President William Jefferson Clinton III has worked since 2002 to reduce the pricing of HIV/AIDS medicines and tests, and to work with governments around the world to further turn the tide on the disease by building the systems needed to deliver care and treatment.

    CHAI seeks to appoint a Programmer - Health Financing, based in South Africa.

    The Programmer will be a key member of the CHAI South Africa team and is expected to provide computer programming and general technical support for the Sustainable Health Financing team and other programming needs related to improving Efficiency and Effectiveness of government health care programmes. The Programmer will be expected to be flexible around the needs of CHAI’s health financing programmes, and to undertake ad hoc tasks, potentially on a variety of projects. They will contribute both through programming expertise and willingness to create bespoke solutions, managing large data sets and helping create tools to aid districts and provinces in their budgeting as South Africa transitions towards a National Health Insurance (NHI). Note the majority of programming will likely be in VBA, and involve automation of processes for the needs of government.

    The position requires a highly motivated individual with outstanding academic credentials and a strong computer programming record. The Programmer is required to work with government officials and implementing partners, and must have excellent communication and negotiation skills and a high degree of self-confidence. S/he must be able to function independently and have a strong commitment to excellence. S/he should also exhibit a number of important personal qualities: resourcefulness, responsibility, tenacity, independence, energy, and work ethic.

    The Programmer will report directly to the Health Financing Manager for CHAI South Africa.

    Responsibilities:
    • Build databases/applications in relation to NHI resource tracking, costing and budgeting interventions, working closely with analysts on the team;
    • Make changes, additions, and edits to existing systems;
    • Create new applications as the need arises;
    • Ensure that all applications are compatible with multiple levels of implementation and are extremely user friendly and accessible in remote districts;
    • Work with the multiple teams to respond to needs and demands;
    • Provide technical assistance and training to the users of the system;
    • Work with the ministry of health to understand and build data-management needs, and maintain flexibility around ‘chipping in’ to multiple tasks;
    • Potentially significant ad hoc work, including database and website design and maintenance, but also non-IT related tasks including pitching in where needed;
    • Document all work thoroughly so products’ maintenance is sustainable.
    Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree in computer science/computer programming;
    • Minimum of two of years of professional experience;
    • Experience working and communicating with government officials and multilateral organisations;
    • Knowledge of public finance, the South African context, and/or health care;
    • Experience and knowledge in the following programming and development tools: VBA (in Excel and Access a must); SQL; JAVA; C; HTML or website development software advantageous;
    • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
    • Ability to work independently and effectively in high-pressure, fast-paced environment and handle multiple tasks simultaneously;
    • Ability to set and meet time-lines and deadlines;
    • Comfortable working with government officials and people of varied cultures and background;
    • Fluent in English;
    • Willingness to travel at short notice if necessary.
    Apply online, click here.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about the Clinton Health Access Initiative, refer to www.clintonhealthaccess.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation: Grants and Business Administrator

    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Wednesday, December 19, 2012
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is a NGO that focuses on the pursuit of excellence in research, treatment, training and prevention of HIV and related infections in Southern Africa.

    The DTHF seeks to appoint a Grants & Business Administrator, based at its Emavundleni research facility in Crossroads, Cape Town.

    Responsibilities:

    Financial Administration of the business unit

    Ensuring cash flow
    • Monthly reporting and debtor invoicing grantors, involves knowing grant compliance regulations;
    • Ensuring high levels of efficacy of the administration systems supporting the process ensuring compliance to organisational policy, GAAP, VAT regulations, grantor regulations;
    • Developing cost allocation methodologies to ensure grant compliance and full utilisation of budgets;
    • Allocating costs/creditor invoices to budgets.
    Purchasing
    • Responsible for supplier relationships;
    • Managing relationship with procurement officer;
    • Validate and adherence and compliance to payment procedures.
    Ensuring site is adequately financially resourced and managed
    • Understanding the resources required, especially staffing, to run a pluri-potent, multi-network, multi-protocol clinical trial site;
    • Writing and submitting annual and periodical budgets timeously within different legal structures i.e. as a consortium member, as a sub-contract, as a primary awardee;
    • Managing budgets in foreign currency i.e. in a volatile exchange rate environment.
    Daily cash management
    • Coordinating participant incentives;
    • Reconciling and approving the petty cash.
    Coordinate and manage external and internal government and project related audits

    Other site administration
    • HR Administration (Coordinate and manage staff recruitment with HR manager; Coordinate and manage staff disciplinary issues with HR manager);
    • IT Administration - ensure fully functional IT systems.
    Requirements:
    • Finance degree with minimum of three years experience preferably with a business administration post graduate qualification;
    • Cost and management accounting - donor fund management is an asset;
    • High levels of numeracy and accuracy;
    • Intermediate to advanced excel;
    • SAP Business One;
    • Resourcing and budgeting skills;
    • Ability to develop and implement administrative systems;
    • Entrepreneurship, intercultural competence, team working, analytical thinking and flexibility.
    This contract post is renewable subject to funding availability and acceptable work performance.

    To apply, submit a CV, motivation letter indicating ‘Grants & Business Administrator’ in the subject line and two contactable referees to Jobs@hiv-research.org.za or fax to: 021 633 0182.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

    The DTHF is committed to equity in our employment practices. It is its intention to appoint individuals with the aim of meeting our equity objectives. The organisation reserves the right not to appoint if no suitable candidates are identified.

    If you have not heard from us within two weeks after the closing date, consider your application unsuccessful.

    It is illegal to employee foreign national without documentation which would allow them to work in South Africa legally. If you are a foreign national applying for this position please attach a copy of the documents that allows you to work in South Africa legally.

    For more about the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, refer to www.desmondtutuhivcentre.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation: Community Liaison Officer

    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF)
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, September 22, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is a registered nonprofit organisation focused on the pursuit of excellence in research, treatment, training and prevention of HIV and related infections in Southern Africa. 

    DTHF seeks to appoint a Community Liaison Officer, based at Emavundleni, Crossroads, Cape Town.

    This full-time one-year fixed-term contract position.  

    Responsibilities: 
    • Responsible for education, recruitment and retention of research participants;
    • Supervision and management of staff;
    • Monitoring and Evaluation-develop and maintain recruitment and retention plans; evaluate current strategies and implement new strategies;
    • Building community relationships via the creation and maintenance of Community Advisory Boards (CAB) – facilitate CAB meetings; organise CAB training;
    • Administration-budget control; accurate record keeping; report submissions (bi-monthly; quarterly, annually).
    Requirements: 
    • Matric/Grade 12 and tertiary degree in related field;
    • Minimum of two years working experience in a similar role;
    • Valid driver’s licence is essential;
    • Strong client focus;
    • Excellent ability to build interpersonal relationships;
    • Leadership and staff management;
    • Ability to facilitate change;
    • High level of decision making and problem solving skills;
    • Work standards;
    • Excellent English/isiXhosa written and verbal communication skills.
    To apply, submit a CV, contact details of two and motivation letter to the Human Resource Manager via email: jobs@hiv-research.org.za or facsimile: 021 650 6963.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.
              
    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. We are committed to equity in our employment practices. It is our intention to appoint individuals with the aim of meeting our equity objectives. We reserve the right not to appoint if no suitable candidate is identified.
     
    If you are a foreign national applying for this position please attach a copy of your work permit to your application.
     
    If you have not heard from us within two weeks after the closing date please consider you application as unsuccessful.
     
    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is a child friendly organisation committed to the protection of children.

    For more about Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, refer to www.desmondtutuhivfoundation.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Treatment Action Campaign: Finance Officer - Payments

    Treatment Action Campaign
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Tuesday, July 15, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) engages in monitoring, advocacy and campaigning within the health system to ensure that every person with HIV has access to quality comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support services to live a healthy life.

    TAC seeks to appoint a Finance Officer - Payments, based at the National Office in Cape Town.

    The incumbent must be a mature, experienced person who can work without supervision, but well within a team.  Is knowledgeable and can adapt to this changing environment.  Is accurate and thorough in the execution of their duties.
     
    Responsibilities:
    • Ensure that TAC’s Financial and Procurement Policies are followed
    • Loading beneficiaries into Nedbank package
    • Loading EFT’s into Nedbank package
    • Writing cheques for the organisation
    • Record all cheques and disbursements on a daily basis
    • Coding National requisitions
    • Filing of all payments processed
    • Making sure that all bank related queries and requests are followed up properly
    • Printing of monthly bank statements for TAC
    • Filing original bank statements and cheques
    • Make a list of outstanding invoices for provinces and follow up receipts and queries.
    • Perform additional duties as delegated by the Chief Finance Officer.
    Requirements:
    • Qualification in Bookkeeping / Accounting / Finance;
    • Experience  in loading payments will be an advantage;
    • Excellent Knowledge and experience of Microsoft Word and Excel;
    • Record keeping, report preparation and record management techniques;
    • Knowledge of Pastel Evolution or VIP;
    • Complete fluency in speaking, reading and writing English;
    • Minimum of two years relevant experience in a similar environment;
    • Organisation and administration to work effectively;
    • Analytical  and technical ability;
    • Accuracy, attention to detail and high level of confidentiality;
    • Adaptable and flexible;
    • Work well in a team and can work unsupervised;
    • Commitment to the overall aims and values of TAC.
    To apply, submit a short CV, listing qualifications, prior work experience and at least three referees who can attest to your ability and success in this function and a motivational letter, outlining your interests in this position to The Human Resource Manager, Email: hr@tac.org.za or deliver to 122 Westminster house, Longmarket Street, Cape Town.
     
    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    The organisation is particularly interested in considering women and people living with HIV. Please note that if you do not get a response from us within two weeks of the closing date, you should consider  your application unsuccessful.
     
    For more about the Treatment Action Campaign, refer to www.tac.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.
     
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  • Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation: Study Counsellor

    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, July 11, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is a registered nonprofit organisation focused on the pursuit of excellence in research, treatment, training and prevention of HIV and related infections in Southern Africa. 

    DTHF seeks to appoint an HCT Study Counsellor for its Mobile HIV Testing Unit (Tutu Tester).

    This is a five-month contract position.

    Responsibilities:
    • Provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all clients;
    • Providing high quality post test counselling as well as risk reduction counselling for clients and pre-test counselling where necessary;
    • Follow-up telephone calls with HIV positive clients that were counselled;
    • Entering client data onto database via cell phone / computer;
    • Administer questionnaires;
    • Provide basic HIV / ARV education to clients individually and in groups;
    • Assist with recruiting patients for testing on the TUTU TESTER;
    • Assist with community surveys, including home visits;
    • Assist with education and training as required;
    • Assist with filing research forms and patient files;
    • Maintain strict client confidentiality;
    • Capturing study forms on the Access database and filing forms.
    Requirements:
    • Grade 12 or equivalent;
    • Experience in HIV/AIDS specific counselling training;
    • Driver’s licence essential;
    • Good written and verbal communication;
    • Good Interpersonal skills;
    • Ability to function in a team;
    • Willingness to travel and work irregular hours.
    To apply, submit a CV with names and contact details of two professional references, motivational letter quoting the name of the position you are applying for to: The Human Resource Manager, Email: jobs@hiv-research.org.za or fax to: 021 650 6963.
              
    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    NB: Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. We are committed to equity in our employment practices. It is our intention to appoint individuals with the aim of meeting our equity objectives. We reserve the right not to appoint if no suitable candidate is identified.
     
    If you are a foreign national applying for this position please attach a copy of your work permit to your application.
     
    If you have not heard from us within two weeks after the closing date please consider you application as unsuccessful.
     
    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is a child friendly organisation committed to the protection of children.
     
    For more about the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, refer to www.desmondtutuhivfoundation.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Treatment Action Campaign: Communications Coordinator

    Treatment Action Campaign
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Sunday, June 29, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is a membership-based civil society organisation that campaigns for quality healthcare for all in South Africa - with a particular focus on people living with and affected by HIV and tuberculosis.

    TAC seeks to appoint a Communications Coordinator, based in Cape Town.

    The candidate will take responsibility for driving and managing TAC’s internal and external communications. The Coordinator should be a pro-active person with a passion for social justice who can help us with the important work of turning around the South African public health system.

    Responsibilities:
     
    • Communications:
      • Develop an annual communication strategy;
      • Take responsibility for day-to-day internal and external communication;
      • Build relationships with all media and other organisations that work in health;
      • Compile and oversee distribution of newsletters and press statements;
      • Assist TAC’s provincial offices with the editing of materials for various communication platforms;
      • Take responsibility for editorial content and overall management and maintenance of the TAC website.
    • Managing Media/ External environment:
      • Initiate and manage media briefings and press conferences;
      • Act as TAC National spokesperson when the General Secretary is not available;
      • Write press releases;
      • In collaboration with researchers, develop updated materials (pamphlets and posters) for distribution to all provinces.
    • Knowledge management
      • Maintain archive of relevant media articles;
      • Ensure sharing and exchange of relevant knowledge for the benefit of enhanced organisational performance.
    • Training
      • Train national and provincial leaders with the goal of building a public profile in the media;
      • Provide and/or organise training and support for national and provincial TAC staff on engaging with the media.
    Requirements:
    • Tertiary qualification: Preferably journalism or Communications;
    • Excellent writing and communication skills in English;
    • Ability to identify report on, and promote TAC’s campaigns;
    • Good understanding of the public health system and the science of HIV and TB;
    • Able to present in public and engage with the media;
    • Excellent research skills;
    • Minimum of three years experience working as a Senior Communications Officer;
    • Excellent communication skills;
    • Able to work in a pressurised environment with short deadlines;
    • Able to travel extensively throughout South Africa;
    • Able to trouble shoot and deal creatively with challenges;
    • Excellent team player;
    • Passion for social justice, especially health.
    To apply, submit a CV listing qualifications, prior work experience and at least three referees who can attest to your ability and success in this function and a motivational letter outlining your interests in working within this field and your suitability for this position (approx. 1 000 words) to The Human Resource Manager, Email: hr@tac.org.za.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    The organisation is particularly interested in considering women and people living with HIV.
     
    Please note that if you do not receive a response within 4 weeks of the closing date, you should consider that your application was not successful.

    For more about the Treatment Action Campaign, refer to www.tac.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.
     
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  • Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation: Data Officer

    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Sunday, June 15, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation’s (DTHF) mission is the pursuit of excellence in research, treatment, training and prevention of HIV and related infections. The DTHF works in partnership with the Western Cape Provincial Government (PGWC) on services strengthening initiatives. The 'Family Planning into HIV Care and Treatment Services Project' (FPI) is one of those projects.

    The DTHF seeks to appoint a Data Officer, based in Cape Town at the UCT Medical School, Anzio Road.

    This is a fixed term, 12 month contract position.

    The Data Officer will ensure the integrity of the data-management system including the FPI Projects electronic database.
     
    Responsibilities:
    • Ensure that all data collected for the project is captured timeously and correctly into the electronic access database;
    • Implement the projects data quality management plan;
    • Extract data and statistics for reporting purposes when required.
    Requirements:
    • Experience in access dat base management;
    • Computer skills including high excel literacy;
    • Experience in data quality control measures;
    • Tertiary education in a related field or equivalent experience;
    • Minimum of three years work experience in a research environment or related field will be an advantage;
    • Proficiency in excel is essential;
    • Proficiency in access database management is essential;
    • Understand the use of STATA software is an advantage;
    • Ability to work independently and to ensure accuracy at all times;
    • Report writing skills;
    • Manage office systems and processes;
    • Fluency in English and a second language;
    • Willingness to travel at times;
    • Valid driver’s licence and own vehicle.
    To apply, submit a CV with three contactable references and a motivational letter to The Human Resource Manager via email: jobs@hiv-research.org.za or fax to 021 633 0182.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Enquiries, contact Anna van Esch, Tel: 021 650 1959 / 072 383 0970.
     
    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

    Foreign nationals applying for this position must submit a copy of their work permit.

    DTHF is committed to equity in our employment practices. It is the organisation's intention to appoint individuals with the aim of meeting our equity objectives. DTHF reserves the right not to appoint if no suitable candidates are identified.
     
    If you are a foreign national applying for this position please attach a copy of your work permit to your application.
     
    If you have not heard from the DTHF within two weeks after the closing date please consider you application as unsuccessful.
     
    Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is a child friendly organisation committed to the protection of children.
     
    For more about the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, refer to www.desmondtutuhivfoundation.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Flying High and Sinking Low: Bipolar Disorder

    Because what we do not know or do not understand scares us, we usually ignore it. This is why so often this debilitating illness goes undiagnosed and the bipolar sufferer is left in a world that does not understand them or their sickness.
     
    When Charlene, 23, goes to her bedroom, opens her cupboard and takes out the green stockings and orange mini dress with huge circles all over it these days, she knows she is in trouble. She feels reckless and free - in fact she feels great - but at the same time she knows she is heading for a manic period which could last anywhere from a few hours to a week.  “When I’m manic I have no inhibitions and I’m likely to give away half my possessions – sometimes to virtual strangers.” 
     
    Charlene was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder at the age of 19 and up to then apart from a couple of bouts of depression had led a normal teenage life. “When I look back now there were some warning signs. I battled to concentrate or finish my work properly at school and every report would say I was not reaching my full potential.  My parents put my behaviour down to being a normal teenager and acting weird to the stress of matric, but inside I knew it was more than that.”
     
    Their local general practitioner immediately recognised that this was more than just normal teen behaviour and sent Charlene to a psychiatrist, who, only seeing her depression immediately put her on anti-depressants, which to someone suffering from bipolar disorder is a disaster as this immediately sets off a manic period.
     
    So what exactly is bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness? It is a brain disorder causing the sufferer to experience extreme changes in mood, energy and behaviour – classing it as a mood disorder. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. One day the sufferer will be in a deep depression and the next feel on top of the world - in fact have so much energy and confidence they think they can tackle anything. Untreated it can lead to suicide, but with the right medication and treatment people with this illness can lead normal lives.
     
    The problem though for most bipolar sufferers is simply being correctly diagnosed. According to psychiatrist Dr. Leigh Janet, one of the country’s leading experts on this illness, “Someone with Bipolar will often only be seen by doctors or psychologists while they are in the depressed stage of their illness and will then be prescribed anti-depressants, which will usually bring on a manic phase. Bipolar is very tricky to diagnose and often people with an extreme form of the illness can look as though they have schizophrenia - although this is a totally different illness. A person can be genetically predisposed to bipolar, which means it can be triggered by something like substance abuse or trauma. Very often it is a family gene and once we take a family history and see bipolar this is a sure confirmation of the illness.”
     
    This was the case for Lee Loggerenberg, 34, a freelance journalist from Johannesburg. “There was a history of depression and bipolar in our family, but it was not until 10 years ago that I was correctly diagnosed. Looking back I have always had this condition. As a child I was moody and often angry - although my parents did not seem to think it was a problem. School was not easy and after matric I started doing drugs and drinking way more than was normal for a girl my age – that went along with no inhibitions. I could not control my emotions and my moods would swing through ups and downs. Even when I was diagnosed I did not take it seriously and brushed it off – until after I got married and fell pregnant. That was when the real problems started.”
     
    Even a normal pregnancy will see a woman’s behaviour change as the hormones kick in, but for a person with bipolar this is around seven times more severe and their moods are severely affected. “I literally had to be held back one day as I wanted to attack my sister and do her serious damage”, explains Loggerenberg. “This was when I was taken to a psychiatrist who diagnosed this as hypomania. I would get very excited and talk very fast one minute and sink to a deep depression the next. Before I saw the psychiatrist the medication I was on, as well as the alcohol I was drinking, had triggered this behaviour. My poor husband, who is a quiet guy, was incredibly patient and a wonderfully stabilising influence for me. One day though I even picked up a kitchen knife and came at him – where did that come from, I’d ask myself later? “ 
     
    Loggerenberg’s problems intensified once her twin boys were born. They moved in with her parents just as post natal depression (the normal condition after a bipolar pregnancy) set in.  “One night I was so frantic I held a pillow over my child’s face and said if you do not help me I am going to kill my children.” It was at this point that Loggerenberg’s parents took the children and her medication was changed. Within days her mood had stabilised and today Loggerenberg knows if a manic period is about to start. “Today I look for the signals and simply adjust my medication.” Prevention is of course better than cure. 
     
    Early diagnosis is often the key to controlling this illness. Zane Wilson, founder of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), receives daily calls from sufferers or families of bipolar disorder. “If we do not catch them as soon as possible the problem gets so bad we have to get them admitted to hospital to stabilise them to get their lives back on track. What would help is if those close to bipolar sufferers start to see the signs of mania coming on and check if they’re taking the medication – and keep a close eye on them.”
     
    SADAG advises family members and friends of sufferers to identify what kinds of things are likely to trigger manic episodes and then try to avoid these as well as making sure they stick to their medication. “When a family member calls us to report someone behaving in a way that sounds like bipolar disorder we immediately advise them to seek psychiatric help. Very often the onset is in quite young people and it’s hard for their families to face this,” adds Wilson.
     
    Today, these women are living fulfilled lives, are on medication and see a future in front of them. But how is this illness successfully treated? “We look at each case individually as some people will have one episode a year whereas you can have one when you’re 20 and the next when you’re 70,” explains Janet.  If you have three or more episodes then you would have to stay on mood stabilisers, such as Lithium. For around 15 percent of people Lithium is all they need, but with others it’s often a cocktail of medications. It often takes a little juggling to find the right combinations.”
     
    The good news is that there are at least 12 support groups up and running around South Africa for bipolar sufferers. And as Loggerenberg says “We are seen as outcasts but we are not. We are normal people with a disease. A disease of the brain…”
     
    SADAG’s Bipolar Helpline: 0800 70 80 90
     
    Marion Scher is a journalist, media consultant and trainer at Media Mentors.  
    Author(s): 
    Marion Scher
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