The MCS warns that poor nutrition risks undermining anti-
retroviral treatment. At a meeting held on the premises of the National Council
for the Fight against AIDS, the doctors gave World Bank officials their account
of the current stage of the epidemic, and the problems faced in combatting it.
They pointed out that the current estimate is that 14.9 per cent of Mozambicans
aged between 15 and 49 are HIV-positive. MCS representative Momade Rafico Bagus
told reporters that this meeting with the World Bank was intended to discuss
jointly mechanisms to ensure nutritional assistance that can complement
Rafico said that most patients diagnosed as HIV-positive
in the country's health institutions face the same problem - they are unable to
provide enough food for themselves, and often they belong to large households.
Rafico said that Maputo General Hospital intends to raise to 125 the number of
patients treated with anti-retrovirals, but he doubted that this would do much
good as long as patients are weak through malnutrition.
Rafico also claimed that at Mavalane General Hospital HIV-
positive patients receive anti-retroviral drugs and recommendations about the
lifestyle they should follow - but then do not reappear for control purposes,
and usually point to lack of money as the reason. Rafico's pessimism is not
shared by one of the main NGOs assisting the Health Ministry in the anti-AIDS
programme, the Rome-based Sant'Egidio Community. One of the characteristics of
the Sant'Egidio programme is that it provides patients with food supplements and
with water filters to ensure that they have a decent diet and clean water.
Indeed the nutritional component is clear in the very
title of the Sant'Egidio programme, DREAM - an acronym that stands for Drug
Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition. As for people interrupting
treatment, Sant'Egidio claims this does not happen with patients in the DREAM
programme, where adherence to the treatment schedule is better than among HIV-
positive patients in Italy or the United States.
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(Source: AllAfrica, February 19, 2005)