Gauteng Health MEC Launches OUT’s Groundbreaking Johannesburg MSM Clinic

In a significant stride towards equitable healthcare, Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, inaugurated OUT LGBT Well-being’s Engage Men’s Health clinic in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

This facility is dedicated to men who have sex with men (MSM) and was aptly launched on 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT).

A Beacon of Hope and Health

Funded by PEPFAR through USAID, OUT’s Engage Men’s Health (EMH) clinic offers a comprehensive range of free HIV and STI prevention and treatment services. These are specifically designed for gay, bisexual and other MSM, ensuring they receive equitable, stigma-free, and safe access to healthcare.

EMH is a project of OUT-LGBT Well-being, the second-oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) NGO in South Africa. The clinic’s opening on IDAHOBIT, underscores OUT’s commitment to combating the violence and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

“The EMH project fills a critical gap in healthcare provision by providing for the unique needs of gay men and other MSM who are at higher risk of HIV but often face barriers to accessing healthcare due to discrimination and stigma,” says Dawie Nel, Executive Director of OUT.

Dawie Nel, Executive Director of OUT; Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko; and Anita Sampson, Deputy Director of the Bilateral Health Office USAID Southern Africa, unveil the plaque inaugurating the Engage Men’s Health clinic in Rosebank on 17 May 2024

Expanding Horizons

Launched in 2019, the Engage Men’s Health clinic has moved from its original Melville location to the more accessible site in Rosebank. This new facility is also a community space offering additional services such as mental health support with an in-house social worker and harm reduction programmes. It further serves as a hub for several EMH mobile outreach teams that provide services throughout Johannesburg.

The Rosebank clinic will also operate two new smaller clinic locations in the Johannesburg Health District, one in Braamfontein and the other in Soweto – both set to launch in the coming weeks. Working together, OUT’s three sites will continue to enhance accessibility and expand care options deeper across the district. These facilities will allow even more MSM to engage in community-building activities, receive health services, and collect medications at centres closer to their homes, in the communities they feel comfortable in, by a community partner whom they trust.

Support and Commitment

At the launch, MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko highlighted the importance of prioritising men’s health: “The significance of this event lies in a commitment to addressing and prioritising men’s health, which is a crucial aspect of public health and one that often goes under-emphasised. [The clinic] is not just a medical centre, it is a profound statement that everyone deserves access to compassionate and comprehensive healthcare. And it underscores our belief in accessible, stigma-free healthcare environments that empower individuals and strengthen communities.”

She praised OUT’s efforts in broadening its services: “The Engage Men’s Health clinic has played a critical role in destigmatising mental health issues, offering crucial intervention in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and meeting a range of other healthcare services that cater specifically to the needs of men in our community. Your resilient pursuit of excellence and adaptability in the face of evolving challenges inspires all of us.”

A Collaborative Effort

The launch event featured spirited performances by the Johannesburg Queer Chorus and drag performer Labelz D’ Glamour and saw the presence of activists, stakeholders and social media influencers such as Thami Dish.

The opening was also attended by dignitaries from USAID and PEPFAR, including Anita Sampson, Deputy Director of the Bilateral Health Office at USAID Southern Africa.

Sampson remarked, “This momentous occasion marks a significant step forward in our collective efforts to address the unique health needs of men who have sex with men in our community. This clinic symbolises a beacon of hope, a sanctuary where individuals and community groups can seek care without fear of discrimination or prejudice, and it embodies our shared commitment to foster a healthier and more inclusive Johannesburg.”

A Vision Realised

Speaking after the event, Dawie Nel, Executive Director of OUT, expressed his deep gratitude to the project’s funders and partners: “None of this would be possible without the generous support of the American people, with funding from PEPFAR through USAID, and our impactful partnership with the Gauteng Department of Health and the Johannesburg Health District.”

He emphasised the Engage Men’s Health clinic’s mission: “The EMH clinic is a physical representation of OUT’s vision of enabling socially just, inclusive, and equitable societies free of discrimination and stigma. This vision is further embodied by the wonderfully committed staff who bring our services to life every day.”

Contact Information

Located at 23 Glenhove Road, Melrose Estate, Johannesburg, the Engage Men’s Health clinic offers free and friendly services to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, Monday to Saturday. For more information or to make an appointment, please call or WhatsApp 082 607 1686 or visit www.engagemenshealth.org.za.