IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 169, 20 February 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 169, 20 February 2004


SOUTH AFRICA: Budget boost for AIDS spending
GABON: Youth is more afraid of unemployment than AIDS
ZIMBABWE: Free ARVs available from next month
BURUNDI: Germany gives €7.5 million for water, refugees, HIV/AIDS control
AFRICA: First ladies vow to fight mother-to-child HIV/AIDS infection
SOUTH AFRICA: Health system "shambles" delaying ARV rollout
KENYA: Focus on primary schools coping with HIV-positive pupils


1. Women Alive
2. YouthAIDS
3. Lebone Land



SOUTH AFRICA: Budget boost for AIDS spending

South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced on Wednesday that a further R2.1 billion (US $305 million) will be allocated to fighting HIV/AIDS over the next three years.

Manuel said in his 2004 budget speech to parliament that this amount included provision for provincially administered antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programmes.

The increase in spending will also cover the implementation of new rural and scarce skills allowances, aimed at improving health services in remote areas and retaining highly skilled professions in the health service. Also planned over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) is the upgrade or replacement of 27 hospitals.

The additional R2.1 billion will bring the total spending on fighting AIDS provincially and nationally to R12.4 billion (US $1.2 billion) over the three years of the MTEF.

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GABON: Youth is more afraid of unemployment than AIDS

In Gabon, where government spending is falling and unemployment is growing as the oil starts to run out, young people are more worried about getting a job than the risk of HIV/AIDS.

That doesn't help efforts to fight the disease in this relatively affluent country of 1.2 million people where six percent of the population is HIV positive.

President Omar Bongo, Africa's longest serving head of state, has declared the fight against AIDS a "national priority".

But the first outpatient treatment centre for people living with AIDS was only established in Libreville in 2001, antiretroviral drugs are difficult to obtain and there is a widespread view that government efforts to combat the pandemic are hampered by rampant corruption.

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ZIMBABWE: Free ARVs available from next month

Government hospitals in Zimbabwe's two major urban centres, Harare and Bulawayo, will start providing free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs next month, in partnership with UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the local health ministry.

The programme, unveiled last week, is part of WHO's "Three by Five" vision of providing three million people globally with access to ARVs by 2005.

"The Three by Five programme is part of our efforts in assisting the Zimbabwean government with the provision of antiretrovirals," WHO country representative to Zimbabwe, Everisto Njelesani, was quoted as saying.

He added that health personnel were already being trained in the administration of ARVs, and the drugs would be rolled out to other parts of Zimbabwe as the scheme expanded.

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BURUNDI: Germany gives €7.5 million for water, refugees, HIV/AIDS control

Germany and Burundi have signed a cooperation agreement, under which Germany will provide €7.5 million (US $9.5 million) for a water supply project, the rehabilitation of refugees and internally displaced people, and HIV/AIDS control.

Burundian Foreign Minister Terence Sinunguruza and the German ambassador to Burundi, Bernd Brown, signed the agreement on Friday in the capital, Bujumbura.

Many areas in Burundi experience acute water shortages, particularly the northern province of Kirundo and several communes of the northwestern provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke, which are prone to frequent cholera outbreaks.

However, Sinunguruza did not disclose the specific regions that would benefit from the aid.

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AFRICA: First ladies vow to fight mother-to-child HIV/AIDS infection

Five African first ladies and representatives from four other countries have vowed to redouble their efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS on the continent and, in particular, to prevent mother-to-child infections.

"The first ladies emphasised the need for urgent action in scaling up both HIV prevention and care services," said a communiqué issued on Monday in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, after a two-day conference of the first ladies.

The conference, facilitated by UNAIDS, the UN World Health Organization and the UN Children's Fund, ended on Saturday. It was attended by the first ladies of Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, the Republic of Congo and Senegal. Those from Ghana, Mali, Mauritania and Uganda sent representatives.

The first ladies and officials of two pharmaceutical companies – Abbott Laboratories and Boehringer-Ingelheim – agreed to increase cooperation in expanding access to prevention of mother-to-child treatment (PMTCT) services for greater numbers of HIV positive mothers and their children.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Health system "shambles" delaying ARV rollout

South Africa's health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang vehemently defended the pace of the government's rollout of HIV/AIDS drugs at a weekend rally marking the start of national Sexually Transmitted Infection and Condom Week.

Speaking at Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape province, Tshabalala-Msimang said she would not allow drugs to be dispensed until the "shambles" in the health department was resolved. Currently only 2,000 out of 20,000 state doctors are reportedly able to administer and manage antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment.

"The health care system is in shambles, and it would be irresponsible to begin dishing out antiretroviral drugs before we are ready," she reportedly told the crowd.

The minister's speech came a week after the AIDS activist group, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), voiced their alarm over the lack of progress in the provision of ARVs through the public health system, which was agreed by the cabinet in November last year.

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KENYA: Focus on primary schools coping with HIV-positive pupils

Mary Waweru, a kindergarten teacher in Nairobi's sprawling Kawangware slums, has noticed that some of her pupils are increasingly absent from school due to ill health. Some of the young children have already been orphaned and are being supported by charity organisations.

Waweru has begun to suspect that these frequently absent pupils could be suffering from AIDS, which she thinks may have been passed on to them by their parents before they were born.
Such children are usually very thin, and subject to skin rashes, frequent fevers and endless coughs, she explains.

Her 46 pupils, Waweru says, include 12 orphans under the care of local charities. "It is hard to tell if a child has HIV unless you see the obvious signs," she told PlusNews recently. "You can only start suspecting if the child is constantly ill."

Waweru recalled one serious case of a seven-year-old girl, who had left the kindergarten this year to join primary school. "I don't know if she is still alive," Waweru said. "She was always ill and slow in class. But, as a teacher, you try not to frustrate the child - you try to give the child as much love as you can."

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1. Women Alive

This is a treatment-focused, non-profit organisation by and for women living with HIV/AIDS. It aims to make HIV/AIDS information more reachable and understandable to all woman throughout the world.

2. YouthAIDS

A growing global initiative that generates funding and awareness to help fight the spread of HIV among the world’s youth. YouthAIDS programmes are designed to educate young people and protect them from a life of HIV/AIDS. Through mass media, theatre, music, fashion and sport, YouthAIDS promotes abstinence, decreased sexual activity and safer sex among 15 to 24 year-olds, the generation most likely to be infected.

3. Lebone Land

This is a faith-based, holistic care centre in South Africa's Free State Province. It includes a centre for children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and embraces, affirms and adheres to all aspects of their constitutional rights. Lebone also offers an education centre providing skills development, training and poverty alleviation activities, and a community-based orphan care programme.



Recent AFRICA Reports

ARV rollout set to begin in Eastern Cape,  22/Apr/04
Food security through the lens of HIV/AIDS,  16/Apr/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 177, 16 April 2004,  16/Apr/04
Five NGOs to receive USAID grants for HIV/AIDS programmes,  14/Apr/04
HIV/AIDS threatens to undermine democracy,  9/Apr/04


PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:


  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)



  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development

  • GTZ/Afronets

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