IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 177, 16 April 2004
Wednesday 23 June 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 177, 16 April 2004

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


ZIMBABWE: EC aid to help prevent "looming crisis"
RWANDA: Aid plea for genocide rape survivors
DRC: Government, University of North Carolina sign technical agreement
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Five NGOs to receive USAID grants for HIV/AIDS programmes
SENEGAL: Row over re-export of antiretrovirals becomes political
BOTSWANA: Need to make men more sexually responsible


1. The Health Economics & HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD)
2. Strategies for Hope
3. The Centre for the Study of AIDS



ZIMBABWE: EC aid to help prevent "looming crisis"

Aid efforts in Zimbabwe received a financial boost from the European Commission (EC) this week to the tune of 15 million (US $17.8 million).

The EC funds are expected to support emergency food aid, bolster agricultural recovery and improve delivery of social services. The money will also go towards providing assistance to internally displaced people and strengthen humanitarian coordination efforts.

"Over the past few years we have witnessed a spectacular decline of living conditions for millions of Zimbabweans. By working through professional and independent partners, ECHO [the EC's humanitarian aid office] has been able to ensure that EU humanitarian aid reaches vulnerable people in need. I urge the Zimbabwean authorities to continue to allow unfettered access for humanitarian organisations, so that the further development of this looming crisis can be prevented," Poul Nielson, EC commissioner for development and humanitarian said in a statement on Wednesday.

The weakening economy was seen as one of the key reasons for the near-total collapse of water, sanitation and other services in Zimbabwe. Inflation stood at over 500 percent at the beginning of the year, while over 60 percent of the labour force was out of work. An estimated five million Zimbabweans are dependent on food aid.

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RWANDA: Aid plea for genocide rape survivors

African Rights, a human rights organisation, has appealed to the international community to provide medical aid for women who were raped, widowed and infected with HIV/AIDS during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"Providing effective and appropriate support systems for these survivors is an essential gesture of respect to people stripped of all else," African Rights reported on Thursday.

Urging the international community to recognise the "unbearable suffering" endured by women who were widowed and raped, it said aid should especially target the rape victims who were infected with HIV/AIDS.

In the report, "Broken bodies, torn spirits, living with genocide, rape and HIV/AIDS", African Rights details the appalling humanitarian situation of the women, with the majority lacking even basic needs such as shelter, adequate food and medication, while others have been traumatised.

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DRC: Government, University of North Carolina sign technical agreement

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has authorised the University of North Carolina to set up an office at the Kinshasa Referral Hospital to improve public health care in the country.

Clearance for the measure came with the signing of an agreement on Monday between the government and the university. Under the agreement, the university will conduct research into and assist in the effort to combat HIV/AIDS. The university will also train health personnel, while the government will support the university's efforts politically and administratively.

The government will also provide tax, customs and other breaks to the US expatriate staff working on the project.

"We need technical and financial help, and the cooperation between universities which the University of North Carolina provides us," Dr Jack Kokolomani, director of the national AIDS programme, told IRIN.

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Five NGOs to receive USAID grants for HIV/AIDS programmes

Five NGOs running HIV/AIDS-related programmes in Southern Africa are to receive a portion of a US $350 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The recipients, World Relief, Catholic Relief Services, Habitat for Humanity, Opportunity International and Save the Children, were named on Tuesday in the first round of grants to be announced under the presidential initiative.

The $15 billion initiative was launched by President George Bush in 2003, of which $350 million has been allocated to HIV/AIDS-related programmes in 14 countries in Africa and the Caribbean this year. Over a five-year period, PEPFAR hopes to treat at least two million HIV-infected persons with antiretroviral therapy, prevent seven million new infections and provide care for 10 million infected or affected persons, including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

Save the Children is to receive $5.9 million to scale up its care and support interventions in Ethiopia and Mozambique. Michel Rooijackers of Save the Children in Mozambique told IRIN that the grant application had been made by a multi-agency consortium, including the British, US and Norwegian offices of Save the Children, and another consortium of seven NGOs called the Hope for Africa Children Initiative.

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SENEGAL: Row over re-export of antiretrovirals becomes political

A minor Senegalese politician, who has confessed to re-exporting subsidised antiretroviral drugs meant for poor Africans to Europe, is gaining the support of Islamic and human rights organisations who say he is being persecuted by the government.

Abdou Latif Gueye, former president of the international charity, Afrique Aide l'Afrique (AAA), has admitted to buying antiretroviral drugs from the international pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, for distribution at subsidised prices to people living with AIDS in Senegal, and then re-exporting part of the consignment at a profit.

Gueye, who also heads a small political party, the Rally for Social Democracy (RDS), has been in prison for 16 months awaiting trial.

Islamic organisations, a local human rights group and many mainstream Senegalese politicians are now clamouring for his release, claiming that his continued detention is unjustified, particularly since the crime for which he has been indicted - evasion of customs duties - is normally punishable by a fine rather than a prison sentence.

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BOTSWANA: Need to make men more sexually responsible

Botswana's efforts to curb the AIDS epidemic will be shaped by attempts to make men more sexually responsible.

This emerged from a four-day national workshop on male involvement in sexual and reproductive health, organised last week in Gaborone by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the ministry of health.

"Men in an all-male environment, such as the military, may be strongly influenced by a culture that reinforces risk-taking, including unsafe sex," said Dr Agathe Lawson, UNFPA representative in Botswana.

According to a 1999 study on HIV/AIDS commissioned by the Community Health Services Division, men feel entitled to have multiple sex partners.

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1. The Health Economics & HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD)

HEARD, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, conducts research on the socioeconomic aspects of public health, with a special emphasis on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HEARD's objective is to inspire health and development strategies that improve the welfare of people in and beyond Africa. The site provides a platform for knowledge sharing and skills transfer.

2. Strategies for Hope

Strategies for Hope, an actionaid project, aims to promote informed, positive thinking and practical action by all sections of society in dealing with HIV and AIDS. The site is a visual feast of books, videos even a training package designed to disseminate information about practical strategies of HIV/AIDS care, support and prevention in developing countries.

3. The Centre for the Study of AIDS

The University of Pretoria (UP) established the Centre for the Study of AIDS (CSA) in 1999 to "mainstream" HIV/AIDS in all aspects of University's core business activities. Its mission was to understand the complexities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa and develop effective ways of ensuring that all UP students and staff were prepared both professionally and personally to deal with HIV and AIDS. The site is a platform for research as well as discussions and ideas.


Recent AFRICA Reports
Morris calls for increased effort in AIDS fight, 18/Jun/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 186, 18 June 2004, 18/Jun/04
UN welcomes G8 endorsement of HIV vaccine initiative, 14/Jun/04
Church leaders to get more involved in fighting HIV/AIDS, 14/Jun/04
NGO in HIV/AIDS sensitisation efforts, 14/Jun/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 Networks
  • GTZ/Afronets

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