Out of 120 million Nigerians about 2.6 million are living with HIV/AIDS. Helen Shok-Jok, a journalist who has worked in Nigeria for the past 16 years, says that government in that country has shown no political will when it comes to addressing the HIV epidemic. She adds that the situation is getting worse as people are still afraid to disclose their HI status because of the stigma that is still attached to the disease. Shok-Jok added that the silence about HIV/AIDS was an issue in all regions and that those who are being tested are pregnant women. Thandeka Teyise of Health-e News Service asked Shok-Jok for an update on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
Khanyisa Ndlotyeni of Guguletu in Cape Town was born HIV positive fifteen years ago. While Khanyisa’s mother, Ntsuki, unfortunately died last year, the teenager has managed to surive despite poor living conditions and without taking anti-retrovirals. Does her survival mean children born with HIV can survive and live longer? Nkosi Johnson, who died at the age of 12 two years ago, was believed to be the oldest surviving child in South Africa. Now Khanyisa’s survival is offering new hope to those children born with HIV. Dr Kwezi Mtoti, of the Guguletu Community Health Clinic, said when Khanyisa’s health deteriorated last year she began taking anti-retrovirals and has become a beacon of hope for those who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. While Khanyisa accepts that she contracted HIV from her mother she is determined to get on with her life. One day, she says, she hopes to become a nurse so that she can help others.
Globally, women are still disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS because they are socially, culturally, biologically and economically more vulnerable and because they shoulder the burden of caring for the sick and dying. Richard Delate, of Journ AIDS and the Centre for AIDS Development and Evaluation (CADRE), says women are still afraid to negotiate condom use and in most cases do not seek treatment for sexually transmitted infections because of the stigma that is still attached to these infections. According to UNAIDS, about 50 percent of adults living with HIV/AIDS globally are women. Women constitute 58 percent of HIV/AIDS positive adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent in North Africa and Middle East and 50 percent in the Caribbean. Thandeka Theyise of Health-e News Service compiled this report.
Deputy President, Jacob Zuma says government has allocated about R3.3 billion to fight HIV/AIDS over the next three years through a comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy that includes prevention, treatment, care and support. He says an additional R350 million has been set aside for home and community-based care and support programmes and that over the past two years an estimated eleven thousand health workers have been trained to manage opportunistic infections. For the next three years about 100 health workers per province will be trained annually to manage HIV/AIDS. Zuma adds government has also formed partnerships with civil society including traditional leaders, traditional healers, non-governmental orgranisations (NGO’s), community-based organizations (CBO’s) , trade unions and faith-based organizations. Thandeka Teyise compiled this report.
Each year over 300 million people fall ill and about one million people worldwide die of malaria, a disease that is preventable. The disease affects populations in more than 90 countries, many of them in Africa. Professor Richard Feachem, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria says South Africa and Tanzania will benefit from the malaria eradication programmes under Global Fund that will hopefully prevent the spread of malaria in both countries.
About 34 percent of women who participated in a Khayelitsha study on mother and infant relationships showed signs of depression. The study titled ‘Thula Sana’ (a Xhosa lullaby) involved about 147 mothers and was conducted by the University of Cape Town Child Guidance clinic over a period of four years. Dr Mark Tomlinson, a senior researcher at the clinic, said a lack of spousal support was one of the leading factors in Post Natal Depression but that this was not the only cause. Added pressures are unemployment, poverty and single parenting. Dr Tomlinson also found that mood swings after women had given birth could impact adversely on the growth of the infant. Thandeka Teyise of Health-e News spoke to Dr Tomlinson about his research and future plans.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria allocation for South Africa will be received by April the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang announced recently. Africa will receive 60 percent of the funding and South Africa fell within this ambit. The minister also explained the process of applying for funds. Thandeka Teyise compiled this report. This audio is in isiXhosa and English.
Health Minister, Dr Manto Tshabalala Msimang said the money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria would be distributed by April in South Africa. Sixty percent of the overall amount globally will go to Africa and while she did not disclose the total of the grant, the minister gave a breakdown of how it will be distributed in this country. She said the loveLife prevention campaign will receive about R32 million and that government’s HIV/AIDS and TB programme as well as the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative would both receive about R54.4 million each. Futher funds would be distributed to the Soul City education programme that will receive about R19 million and R91 million would go to KwaZulu-Natal.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 80 percent of the world’s population uses traditional or herbal medicines and South Africa is amongst these countries. It has taken over six years for the government and traditional healers to come up with a mutually agreeable plan to formally recognise traditional healers. Thandeka Teyise, of Health-E News Service, spoke to Phillip Khubukeli, a traditional healer who has been part of the process. She asked how close the parties were in terms of reaching an agreement and when the final draft of the Traditional Healers Bill could be expected.
Department of Health’s Director General, Dr Ayanda Ntsabula, has said that while governemnt has not signed any agreement on an AIDS treatment plan, negotiations with all parties concerned would continue. In the meantime Pan Africanist Congress Member of Parliament Patricia De Lille said thousands of people were dying while government stalled. By Thandeka Teyise of Health-e News.
About 10 000 people from across the country participated in the Treatment Action Campaign’s ‘Treat the People March’ that took place in Cape Town on Friday, February 14. TAC activists, religious leaders and non-governmental organisations called on government to implement a national ARV treatment plan before the end of the month. Morne Visser, a South African actor and HIV activist, is one of many who are growing despondent with the government’s slow response to the epidemic that is killing thousands. Tandeka Teyise of Health-e News spoke to him.
Late last year two day hospitals in the township of Guguletu in Cape Town were forced to close because on-duty doctors and nursing personnel repeatedly fell prey to brazen criminals who robbed them of cell phones, money, jewellery and other valuables. The criminals, who seem to have gained easy access to premises, also targeted regular patients. Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Leonard Ramatlakane has now called on the beleaguered communities of Guguletu and Khayelitsha to work with the police to make these areas safer. He said security at the day hospitals need to be stepped up and that security personnel, who are employed by the Provincial Department of Health, needed to be more vigilant as police can only act if they are called out.