The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced it will donate 500 million US dollars (R3.5 billion) over the next five years to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Durban will host the third national HIV/AIDS conference next year from June 5 to 8, said Human Sciences Research Council CEO Olive Shisana yesterday. The gathering is an arena for scientists, activists, policy makers and people living with HIV to exchange ideas on combating the disease.
The correctional services department has been granted leave to appeal against the High Court ruling compelling the department to provide antiretrovirals to Durban-Westville inmates.
The Free State Health Department has allocated the lion's share of its budget to Public Health Care (PHC) services. Health MEC Sakhiwo Belot said more than R1.3 billion would go the PHC services through the district health system.
AFRICAN Governments need to mobilise sufficient resources if people's reproductive health requirements are to be met, a Population Report has said. The report, published by the Info Project, Centre for Communication Programmes at the John Hopkins Bloom-berg School of Public Health in America said the burden of injury and infectious diseases made the situation in Africa worse as healthcare systems were already struggling to meet people's needs.
Living their dreams, 12 young Aids orphans and vulnerable children from KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday returned from a star-studded experience, as they took their first shot at stardom, making their debut as extras in a German soccer film.
Alarming Aids statistics revealing that South Africa has an HIV infection rate of 30 percent have seen sports heroes throw their muscle behind the red Aids ribbon campaign.
Interview with Dr. Libertine Amathila, Namibia's Minister of Health and Social Services December 2, 2003 Dr. Libertine Amathila, Namibia's Minister of Health and Social Services, has been a leader in the fight against HIV/Aids in Africa. Trained as a medical doctor, she has postgraduate qualifications in nutrition, public health and epidemiology. She was interviewed in Windhoek on World Aids Day by AllAfrica’s Reed Kramer and Amadou Mahtar Ba. So why is infection so widespread in Namibia? Information alone does not prevent the spread of HIV/Aids. We have to convince our people to act. We also have a major problem of violence against women here, and throughout southern Africa. Men use their power to get their way. If the wife says, 'you have been far away for five or seven months, let’s use condoms and let’s go check,' usually men refuse. We have a multi-sectoral approach - education, information distribution, surveillance. We tell people their result and treat the opportunistic diseases. Now we have gone a step further treating people with anti-retroviral medicines. We treat people when their CD count has gone down to 200. These are one of the cells in the blood, like the white blood cells, and if they are very low, you know somebody has Aids. This program started two years ago treating mother-to-child transmissions in two hospitals to see what was the impact. We put them on Nevirapine as soon they delivered. Then, five months ago, we started with anti-retroviral treatment, free treatment, for all those infected with HIV/Aids. We thought there might be a hundred to come forward initially, because we still have this stigma. But we were surprised; more than 1,000 came forward. They are coming as a family and there is no more stigma for these people. They want to be treated. The trouble we have is with manpower. We are training 100 counselors right now, to take over from the nurses the treatment of those on anti-retroviral treatment. Each one of these counselors will follow a group of patients on anti-retrovirals to make sure they are getting their treatments, that they are eating properly and taking care of themselves. These patients need encouragement. How and where are you making anti-retroviral treatment available in this country? Our initial goal is to have at least one hospital in each of the 13 regions equipped to provide the treatment. In some regions, two may be needed. We also have the church mission hospitals, which the government is subsidizing 100 percent. One hospital has started the treatment, and another will start soon. (Source: Reed Kramer and Amadou Mahtar Ba, allAfrica.com, December 2, 2003 Windhoek, Namibia)
Eighteen months ago Botswana became the first African country to offer antiretroviral drugs to everyone for free. A huge amount of cash has been dedicated to the cause, but money cannot buy the workers so desperately needed. For example at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone people start queuing outside the gates by 5 a.m. The hospital's waiting rooms and corridors are filled to bursting point until the doors close again at the end of the day. Staff admit they cannot treat anyone else. This hospital is dispatching drugs and advice to more than 6,000 people, making it the largest treatment centre for HIV or Aids in the world. Many have presumed that money - or the lack of it - has been the main obstacle to distributing the drugs that are so desperately needed. But here the crunch has come because of a lack of workers. The problem is about to get worse as the drugs distribution programme is rolled out to new areas of the country. At the moment, Achap - a partnership between pharmaceutical giant Merck, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Botswana government - has six treatment centres but it desperately needs to better serve rural communities. The skills shortage is much wider than healthcare workers. We need people who can manage the centres, do the finances and put forward budget proposals, says Achap's Brad Ryder. There is another, sadder reason why the problem is becoming more acute. Hospital superintendent Howard Moffat confirms that many health workers have been living in denial when faced with the virus they spend their days treating - and some are being lost to AIDS. The government is desperately negotiating with China and Cuba to get more doctors, but existing staff are simultaneously being lured away by agencies in the West. In 2002, Botswana lost 120 of its nurses to the UK. The net result is that, despite the huge amount of money being dedicated to the cause, progress is happening more slowly than had been expected. 35% of Botswana's 1.8m people are living with HIV. More than 90% do not know their status 9,000 are on treatment 14,500 are enrolled for treatment. We thought that by offering drugs for free we would achieve more. No doubt we are saving lives, but it's not the percentage we wanted, says Ibou Thior, project director at the Harvard Aids Institute in Gaborone. Stigma is still rampant. The foreign minister says he has been instructed to highlight the fight against AIDS at every public speech. And president Festus Mogae - who regularly warns that his people face extinction - himself publicly took an HIV test and declared his status (negative). Despite this enormous effort, 90% or more of the population have still not dared to take the test. There are ongoing discussions about the ethics of routinely testing for HIV. However, the real need is to combat the fear and convince people they can have a meaningful life while living with HIV. Dr Moffat at the Princess Marina hospital says that people delay confronting the truth to such an extent that some are brought in when it's already too late. Each day, a handful of patients will be brought into the Marina's waiting room on stretchers. Those who have waited so long are a significant drain on resources. Up to 10 healthy patients could be given drugs and counselling during the time needed to cope with one patient in intensive care. As the battle goes on, the international donor community and other African countries are watching closely to assess Botswana's success. Dr Howard Moffat is optimistic that the battle will eventually be won. The race to train more staff is already underway, with a medical school under construction in Gaborone and almost 1,000 health care workers having been trained at the Harvard AIDS Institute. But he is also conscious of the implications for the rest of Africa if Botswana - with all the money it has in relation to a relatively small population - cannot find a way to manage the virus. The government - one of the richest in Africa thanks to huge diamond resources - has set aside $70m a year to tackle the disease, while it has also won an unprecedented level of support from the private sector. (Source: BBC News 21 Nov.2003)