IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 179, 30 April 2004
Wednesday 23 June 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 179, 30 April 2004

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


SOUTH AFRICA: Challenges remain for MSF's ART programme
NAMIBIA: Lack of funds deepens the plight of orphans
SWAZILAND: Swazi orphans face education crisis
SWAZILAND: Accelerating response to AIDS
AFRICA: Education could save millions of youth from HIV/AIDS - report
DRC: Help victims of sexual violence among expelled Congolese, OCHA says
ETHIOPIA: US grants $18 million for HIV/AIDS
BURUNDI: HIV-positive people demand protective laws
SOUTH AFRICA: Precedent-setting agreement on AIDS coordination
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Global fund approves HIV/AIDS project


2. The AIDS Memorial Quilt



SOUTH AFRICA: Challenges remain for MSF's ART programme

Three years after its inception, the first project to provide free AIDS drugs to South Africans put the 1,000th patient on antiretroviral treatment (ART) this week.

In May 2001 the Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Western Cape Health Department project started providing people at an advanced stage of AIDS with ART at three HIV/AIDS clinics in Khayelitsha township, outside Cape Town.

Although the programme was recognised in 2003 by the World Health Organisation as one of the models for an integrated HIV programme, Dr Erick Goemaere, Head of Mission for MSF South Africa, said he was still nervous about the challenges ahead.

"The programme has demonstrated that a well-run HIV programme can succeed in resource-limited areas, however, we will have to find new solutions and adapt to new challenges," he said.

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NAMIBIA: Lack of funds deepens the plight of orphans

The plight of orphans in Namibia is set to worsen after an announcement this week that the authorities would be unable to disburse a monthly social grant due to insufficient funds.

Minister of Women Affairs and Child Welfare Netumbo Ndaitwah told IRIN on Thursday that "there were too many orphans to be able to pay grants" this year.

"The 2001 National and Population Census showed that there about 115,000 orphans in the country. We suspect that this number has increased quite a bit but, even if we work with the 2001 figure, we still do not have the money to pay the monthly grants," Ndaitwah confirmed.

She noted that last year the government had provided US $1.5 million for an orphan's fund, but the "necessary mechanisms were not put in place" and the fund had not become operational.

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SWAZILAND: Swazi orphans face education crisis

Government and social welfare NGOs are seeking ways to offset a pending education crisis for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) after school heads resolved this week to bar those unable to pay fees.

Education Minister Constance Simelane ordered school principals to admit OVC in January, and promised to provide for the orphans' fees. The directive was controversial, with some education authorities and media pundits doubting government's ability to find and expeditiously release funding for fees as well as other needs, like uniforms and textbooks.

Swazi schools are set to reopen in less than two weeks and heads have noted that the promised funds have not been forthcoming.

"Parents struggle to pay their children's fees, and it is unfair for them to assume the burden of orphans because government has not lived up to its commitments," said the Swaziland School Head Teachers Association in a statement.

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SWAZILAND: Accelerating response to AIDS

Accelerating its response to the AIDS challenge, the Swazi government announced on Wednesday it had selected preferred suppliers of antiretroviral drugs, while the national AIDS funding agency said it had applied for a US $48.5 million grant from the Global Fund.

"The nearly $50 million we have requested is for a five-year period, with $7 million going toward our first-year projects, and the funds will enable us to significantly step up interventions, particularly our programmes directed toward youth, which are currently under-funded," National Emergency Response Committee on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA) director Dr Derek Von Wissell told PlusNews.

Swaziland has one of the world's highest AIDS prevalence rates and the Global Fund is expected to approve the fund application in June.

Von Wissell said NERCHA, which distributes government, private sector and Global Fund monies to health care groups, had purchased ARVs since their introduction in the country via a pilot programme last year, but the process up to now had been informal. The awarding of competitive tenders by the Ministry of Health would bring even greater savings.

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AFRICA: Education could save millions of youth from HIV/AIDS - report

Efforts by the World Bank to support education could "prove critical in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS", the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a coalition of independent civil society organisations has said.

In a report released during the recent meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, the GCE estimated that if all children worldwide received a complete primary education, seven million cases of HIV infection could be prevented over the next 10 years.

The report, "Learning to Survive: How Education For All Would Save Millions of Young People from HIV/AIDS", is based on new research showing that young people aged 15 to 24 who completed primary education were less than half as likely to contract HIV as those missing an education.

After examining data from the UN and the World Bank, the coalition revealed that by accelerating behaviour change, universal primary education could prevent some 700,000 cases of HIV infection each year, or about 30 percent of all new infections in this age group.

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DRC: Help victims of sexual violence among expelled Congolese, OCHA says

Tens of thousands of Congolese expelled from Angola may be in need of psychological support and health care, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday following reports of systematic sexual violence by Congolese.

"OCHA calls for an increase in the capacity of health partners already working on the ground, and the financing of new partners with expertise in sexual violence and the prevention and transmission of HIV/AIDS," the agency said in a report on the initial conclusions of a 23 April inter-agency monitoring mission to Kahungula, in the southwestern province of Bandundu.

Kahungula is one of the five border crossings into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the diamond mine workers and their families being expelled from Angola.

The OCHA report, based on information provided by their team in the DRC, said new arrivals had reported abuses at the hands of Angolan armed forces, including sexual violence and theft.

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ETHIOPIA: US grants $18 million for HIV/AIDS

The United States has granted Ethiopia US $18 million towards combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the US embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, announced on Monday.

The funding is part of the global $15 billion anti-AIDS initiative for 75 countries announced by US President George W Bush. "This plan is a comprehensive and sharply focused initiative, intended to bring relief to the world's most afflicted countries in Africa and the Caribbean," the embassy said.

Ethiopia is one of 15 "focus countries" being prioritised because of the scale of the tragedy affecting them. The scheme, announced last year, aims to prevent seven million new infections, treat two million people living with AIDS, and care for 10 million people living with the virus and AIDS orphans in the focus countries.

The grant was announced as the US inaugurated a voluntary HIV testing and tuberculosis centre at one of Addis Ababa's main hospitals, the Zewditu Memorial Hospital.

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BURUNDI: HIV-positive people demand protective laws

An association for HIV positive people in Burundi, the Reseau Burundais des personnes vivant avec le VIH, wants the government to enact a law protecting affected people against discrimination and stigmatisation.

"We demand that the government should promulgate the law protecting HIV positive people as soon as possible, not only to protect HIV infected people, but to protect the entire community," Felix Ntungumburanye, the head of the association, said during a workshop in the capital, Bujumbura.

He noted that cases of discrimination against people living with HIV were on the increase, and
could even contribute to the spread of the virus. "In some parts of the country, some religious sects ask for certificates stating the HIV status before blessing marriages," he said. "The impact of this procedure is that people feel discriminated against and refuse to take the HIV test. Then weddings are held with all the consequences."

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SOUTH AFRICA: Precedent-setting agreement on AIDS coordination

A landmark agreement to coordinate global efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and increase support was reached by the international community, in partnership with UNAIDS, early this week.

Concern had been expressed that AIDS programmes were being developed in isolation by well-intending donors and NGOs, while detailed reports and donor visits were exhausting resources on the ground.

Angola, for example, was required to accommodate nearly 40 donor visits, leading to duplication and wasted efforts, an official from UNAIDS reportedly said.

According to a World Bank and UNAIDS statement, the precedent-setting agreement was reached with the United States, Britain and other donor countries, and is aimed at ensuring that heavily affected countries receiving assistance were able to spend the money efficiently and more effectively.

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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Global fund approves HIV/AIDS project

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved a project proposed by the Central African Republic (CAR) government to reinforce care for HIV positive people, the state-owned Radio Centrafrique reported on Monday.

At the same time, the Fund allocated money to fight AIDS to the UN Development Programme in the CAR, which recruited seven experts to oversee the formulation of a training document for NGOs involved in anti-HIV/AIDS efforts.

The funding will also be used to build eight centres across the country for HIV screening. Two of these will be built in 2004 in the capital, Bangui, and the others will be built in the towns of Bouar, Bambari, Mobaye, Bangassou and Bria.

More centres are due to be built in 2005 in the towns of Nola, Berberati, Mbaiki, Bozoum, Sibut and Kaga-Bandoro.

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Great stuff like quizzes, a youth section, stats and more on the AVERT site. AVERT aims to prevent people from becoming infected with HIV, to improve the quality of life for those already infected and to work with others to develop a cure. AVERT has a number of overseas projects helping with the problem of HIV/AIDS in countries where there is a particularly high rate of infection, such as South Africa, or where there is a rapidly increasing rate of infection such as in the Russian Federation.

2. The AIDS Memorial Quilt

Check out the website of the International NAMES Quilt Project. The AIDS Memorial Quilt project, the largest ongoing community arts project in the world, aims to foster healing, heighten awareness, and inspire action in the struggle against HIV and AIDS. Each of the more than 44,000 colorful panels that make up the Quilt memorialises the life of a person lost to AIDS. Check out how to make your panel for the quilt.


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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