IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 184, 4 June 2004
Wednesday 30 June 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 184, 4 June 2004

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


SOUTHERN AFRICA: Twenty-four HIV/AIDS projects awarded financing
SOUTH AFRICA: Linking traditional and formal HIV/AIDS treatment
ZAMBIA: Home-based care projects flourishing
SOUTH AFRICA: The Global Fund clarifies its position on relations with govt
NIGER: Health workers report increased willingness to take HIV tests
DJIBOUTI: Media to take more active role in fighting HIV/AIDS
SOUTH AFRICA: Government says paediatric ARVs to continue
SWAZILAND: Rising number of HIV-positive truckers alarms authorities


1. The Positive Connection
2. Project Inform



SOUTHERN AFRICA: Twenty-four HIV/AIDS projects awarded financing

Twenty four innovative HIV/AIDS projects from across Southern Africa were presented with start-up funds this week by the World Bank Development Marketplace.

The World Bank and its development partners awarded nearly $400,000 to "highly innovative" HIV/AIDS-related projects that bring people and institutions together and have the best promise of moving from concept to concrete results.

"This is the World Bank's flagship innovation instrument. It taps into the non-governmental sector to recognise innovation that exists outside of government. Governments have their own structures and rules that restrict people from being able to think out-of-the-box. Innovative people like the ones we are celebrating here today are social entrepreneurs that follow hunches... we are able to help them follow their hunch with resources that are accessible because we believe in their vision," World Bank Managing Director Dr Mamphela Ramphele told PlusNews.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Linking traditional and formal HIV/AIDS treatment

With an estimated 80 percent of rural South Africans in KwaZulu-Natal province seeking treatment from traditional healers, cooperation between Western and traditional medicine is essential in tackling HIV/AIDS, say analysts.

Sangomas (traditional healers) enjoy a tremendous amount of respect in the community and can be instrumental in promoting HIV-testing, antiretroviral treatment, safe sex, and positive living.

The Kundalila Foundation is a rare initiative in the eastern coastal province that bridges the gap between the formal health sector and traditional healers. It is run by Yvonne Sliep, a psychologist and expert in traditional healers, and Adri van der Maas, a medical doctor who gained experience in the combination of traditional and Western healing methods during three decades of medical work in Malawi.

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ZAMBIA: Home-based care projects flourishing

As Zambia struggles to provide adequate treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, a long-standing community project has proven a valuable resource in efforts to mitigate the impact of the disease.

One such project in Chazanga township, north of the capital, Lusaka, is called Bwafwano, meaning "helping each other", and has provided much-needed assistance to an estimated 2,000 township dwellers living with the virus.

The project is an offshoot of the community work done by the Bwafwano centre and is "equipping communities with the organisational and technical skills needed to tackle the disease".

A key component of the programme is providing women widowed by AIDS with skills to ensure that they become financially self-sufficient. Bwafwano executive director Beatrice Chola told IRIN that HIV/AIDS was the most serious economic challenge for the residents of Chazanga township.

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SOUTH AFRICA: The Global Fund clarifies its position on relations with govt

The Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Professor Richard Feachem, clarified the Fund's position on the current status of its grants to South Africa in a statement released on Thursday.

Clarification became necessary after a media interview in London about a week ago, during which Feachem reportedly expressed concern over a delay in the disbursement of Global Fund grants to local beneficiaries.

However, according to South Africa's Ministry of Health, the Global Fund was provided with the details of grant money received and transferred to local organisations.

The statement by the Fund on Thursday indicated that they had no plans for withdrawing any funds from South Africa, and collaboration between the Global Fund and the South African government was "productive and positive".

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NIGER: Health workers report increased willingness to take HIV tests

More people in the landlocked desert state of Niger are volunteering to undergo testing for HIV/AIDS as acceptance and understanding of the disease improves, according to health workers in the capital, Niamey.

"The image of AIDS has changed. People no longer associate it with death, weight loss, incurability," Doctor Kadidiatu Gouro, the director of the Anonymous and Voluntary Testing Centre (CEDAV) in Niamey told IRIN.

CEDAV is the only specialist testing centre in this poor West African country of 11 million people.

Gouro and her colleagues from the local non-governmental organisation Living Better With AIDS, have been running the testing centre since it was set up in January 2002. They have received support from Lutheran World Relief in the United States and from the governments of France and Niger.

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DJIBOUTI: Media to take more active role in fighting HIV/AIDS

The Djiboutian communication and culture ministry has said it plans to involve journalists more actively in fighting HIV/AIDS despite a relatively low prevalence of the virus in the country.

Speaking at a seminar for journalists in the capital, Djibouti, Minister for Communication and Culture Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama said the seminar was the first step in his ministry's national programme to combat HIV/AIDS.

"You have challenged yourselves to evaluate the impact of your contributions to this battle," he said. "It is a sign of humility and proof of the greatest awareness of the importance of your role as journalists, and it is proof of your sense of responsibility in this collective enterprise and towards your fellow citizens."

According to national health authorities, 2.9 percent of Djibouti's 600,000 population is HIV-positive - a figure, they said, which was low by African standards, but represented a generalised epidemic. The country, however, has a high prevalence of tuberculosis (TB).

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SOUTH AFRICA: Government says paediatric ARVs to continue

The South African health ministry on Tuesday retracted an earlier statement that it would instruct provincial health departments not to put any additional children on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Instead of suspending the enrollment of children, the ministry would warn participating hospitals to make sure they had enough ARV supplies before treating new patients, spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said.

"The point is that there is a problem with government supplies of antiretrovirals for children," he said. "Provinces need to check whether they have secure and sustainable supplies when they enroll children onto the programme because it cannot be interrupted."

Dr Nono Simelela, head of the HIV unit in the ministry of health, originally said it was unclear whether the pharmaceutical industry could supply ARV drugs without interruption. The ingredients for the paediatric formula (either crushed tablets or syrup) was currently being sourced from overseas and, according to Mngadi, this had created difficulties.

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SWAZILAND: Rising number of HIV-positive truckers alarms authorities

Swazi authorities and health workers have expressed concern over the rising rate of HIV infection among the country's truck drivers.

The landlocked southern African country is heavily dependent on road transport and there are fears that the spread of the virus could have a serious impact on the economy.

According to official statistics an estimated 38.6 percent of Swazis are living with the virus, and the country's health ministry has included truckers among the high-risk groups that are partly responsible for Swaziland's soaring HIV prevalence rate.

Two years ago prostitutes operating at border posts were targeted by an aggressive HIV/AIDS awareness campaign aimed at encouraging them to engage in safer sex practices, thereby also reducing the rates of infection among truckers.

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1. The Positive Connection

Re-launched last week, The Positive Connection, one of the first online dating services in South Africa for people living with HIV/AIDS, is better than ever.

2. Project Inform

Project Inform, information, inspiration and advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS, a nonprofit, community-based organisation working to end the AIDS epidemic. The Project has been on the frontlines in the fight against HIV/AIDS since 1985, "when reliable information about the disease and its treatment was nearly impossible to obtain." Project Inform aims to inform people living with HIV, their caregivers, and their healthcare and service providers about the treatment and monitoring of HIV disease; inspire people to make informed choices, take effective action in the fight against HIV, and choose hope over despair; and advocate to facilitate research towards a cure and appropriate regulatory policies, legislation and funding for HIV research, treatment, and care.


Recent AFRICA Reports
Focus on sex education - an antidote to HIV/AIDS, 29/Jun/04
HIV caregivers struggle to make a living, 25/Jun/04
New database gives AIDS orphans quicker access to grants, 25/Jun/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 187, 25 June 2004, 25/Jun/04
Morris calls for increased effort in AIDS fight, 18/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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