This profile was prepared when Veronica Khosa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Rejecting the premise that healthcare is something devised by experts and imposed on patients, Veronica has created an environment where chronically ill patients command respect and can make decisions about their own health. In a country where the formal healthcare system is unable to treat the millions of people ill with HIV/Aids and other diseases, Veronica has established home-based healthcare that teaches family and friends to care for the ill and even to rehabilitate them. She engages healthcare workers and teaches skills to young people by employing retired nurses and others to conduct healthcare training in the community. Her project creates healthcare that not only improves people's lives but uses resources in the most effective way.Veronica learnt about the HIV/Aids epidemic firsthand nursing infected patients in 1990 in Mamelodi, a township outside Pretoria. Her office was inundated with families seeking help for dealing with dying people. Veronica started keeping statistics and found that in Mamelodi four hundred twenty-seven bedridden people were not being cared for by anyone. Veronica decided to create her project after she witnessed one of the many personal tragedies of the HIV/Aids epidemic: a client of hers, alone in a locked room with barred windows, asked for water and then gasped and fell dead to the floor.