MSF, Doctors Without Borders, new comprehensive sexual health clinic in Eswatini
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)

MSF opens new comprehensive sexual health clinic in Matsapha, Eswatini

On February 14, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team, in collaboration with stakeholders from Eswatini's Health Ministry and community leaders, marked the official opening of our new comprehensive sexual health clinic in Matsapha town, which the local community has named “Sitsandziwe” Clinic. This name, translating to “You Are Loved” in English, is living proof of our team's strategy of embracing a “people as partners” approach.

In the urban context of Matsapha, where unique sexual practices are more prevalent, there emerged a clear need for an inclusive and comprehensive sexual health clinic. MSF's Sitsandziwe Clinic aims to address this need by offering effective, convenient, and comprehensive sexual health services in Matsapha. Our team provides all services free of charge, ensuring a safe and private environment.

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Eswatini, new comprehensive sexual health clinic
Since 2007, MSF has been present in Eswatini's Shiselweni region, bringing vital HIV and tuberculosis care to remote communities. In 2023, we passed the torch to the Ministry of Health, marking a new chapter. In 2023, we opened a new sexual health clinic in Matsapha town. Offering comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, we're tackling STIs, providing family planning, managing SGBV, and more.

The clinic's scope of health coverage was determined by an MSF study in 2022 on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) titled “Understanding the Burden of Sexually Transmitted Infections in a Decentralized Care Setting in Eswatini, and the Feasibility of STI Care Provision.” This study highlighted a significant prevalence of STIs affecting both males and females equally, particularly impacting the younger age group of 18-29 years.

“The ultimate goal of the comprehensive sexual health clinic's activities is to generate evidence, identify challenges, and uncover opportunities for the national program, leading to policy changes. These could include the introduction of lab-based STI diagnosis and treatment, as well as hepatitis services at primary health clinics,” said Dr. Hayk Karakozian, MSF medical coordinator in the clinic.

Since the beginning of the clinic operations in September 2023, MSF has provided over 3,093 services to 1,400 patients, including digital HIV testing and treatment for all STI diagnoses. We plan to introduce additional services throughout the year, such as the Shang-ring and injectable PrEP.

Addressing the STI burden is a long-term endeavour that involves not just medical solutions but also tackling social challenges. Luis Neira, MSF head of mission in Eswatini

Communities as Partners

Over the years, our team has initiated several projects to engage with the community. Our regular quarterly stakeholder roundtable discussions inspired us to name the clinic “Sitsandziwe” or “You Are Loved.” These discussions have been vital in understanding how best to serve our target audiences, including the LGBTQI+ community, factory workers, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and young women.

“The medical objective is to address the STI burden, with a focus on involving communities and targeting specific key populations. A lab-based STI treatment approach will demonstrate to the Ministry of Health the necessity of this model of care,” added Luis Neira, the head of mission.

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Eswatini, new comprehensive sexual health clinic
"You Are Loved": MSF opens a new comprehensive sexual health clinic in Eswatini, offering comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services; we're tackling STIs, providing family planning, managing SGBV, and more to communities in Matsapha industrial town. 

We have hosted representatives from various communities to gather feedback on our services and involve them in designing our community programs, holding us accountable as an organization. Additionally, we've reached out through collaborations with established platforms like tertiary orientation events and the annual international trade fair, facilitating community understanding and access to our services.

To guarantee our services reach those in need, our teams maintain active social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, ensuring we are just a click away from providing a response.

About MSF in Eswatini:

MSF has been operational in Eswatini for over 16 years, initially focusing on HIV, drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), and COVID-19 during the pandemic in the Shiselweni region. After successfully decentralizing HIV and DR-TB care and reducing HIV cases, all these activities were handed over to the Ministry of Health and local partners, and the project closed in 2023.

Building on this experience, the team launched the new “Sitsandziwe” clinic in Matsapha, offering STI testing, diagnosis, and treatment, along with consultation and provision of family planning methods, clinical management of SGBV cases, HIV testing, digital self-testing, initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART), Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing, diagnosis, treatment, and care for pre-cancerous lesions, and testing, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of hepatitis B and C.