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Sunday 25 December 2005
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ZAMBIA: Community group project funds ARVs


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



©  PlusNews

ARVs can now be accessed through funding from community project

LUSAKA, 30 May (PLUSNEWS) - A group of HIV positive people in Solwezi, the administrative capital of Zambia's Northwestern province, is helping its members access antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) with the proceeds from its income-generating activities.

The hammermill project of the Network for Zambian People Living with HIV/AIDS (NZP+) in Solwezi, about 700 km northwest of the capital, Lusaka, is also making it possible for members to go for viral load testing.

Marjorie Makanga and her husband, Benson, the NZP+ Solwezi treasurer, both tested HIV positive in 1997, but their meagre incomes prevented them from having CD4 count tests (which measure the strength of the immune system) at the hospital, or buying ARVs.

"We used to sell charcoal but now we can't afford to because, when we do that, chest problems are awakened," said Marjorie.

"We used to have problems at the hospital, where they were asking us to pay to have a CD4 count; now at least one person can be served at a time from the income generated; now I am able to buy the drugs [ARVs]," her husband added.

The Zambia National AIDS Network (ZNAN), a network of AIDS service organisations and one of the four principal recipients of funding from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia, supported the establishment of the NZP+ Solwezi maize-milling project at a cost of Kwacha 13.5 million (US $2,918).

"Most of our members are vulnerable people who are not in employment, and the DHMT [District Health Management Team] was giving us a cold shoulder, but with the income generated, we are able to buy ARVs for some members," said NZP+ Solwezi programme officer Thomson Kangaya.

"We believe that with time, people with HIV ... [will become] independent, because donors will one day go - that's why we need income generating activities, and we hope in future these groups will be independent," Kangaya said.

Project committee chairperson Robert Chinyama said the network was being overwhelmed by the increasing number of members.

Ten HIV/AIDS support groups constitute the NZP+ Solwezi. "We would like to have an independent income generation activity for each support group," he said. "Each group has 25 members and the number is increasing."

"The problem is that we are too many, and already one of our members has died. She was on TB [tuberculosis] treatment and could not be put on ARVs because there was no money for a CD4 count," he said. "We make about Kwacha 50,000 ($10) per day and this is not enough, because we are too many."

ZNAN information and communications officer Sam Kapembwa urged the project groups to apply for more funding as partnerships, instead of each group applying separately.

"They are free to apply seperately, but the uniqueness of the partnership is encouraged by ZNAN because it enhances transparency and accountability - all they need to do is to apply for more funding," Kapembwa said.

[ENDS]




 
Recent ZAMBIA Reports
AIDS herbal remedies come under microscope,  20/Oct/05
Community benefits from free ARVs,  13/Sep/05
Agencies step in to address HIV/AIDS in prisons,  5/Sep/05
Civic groups call on MPs to be more proactive in HIV/AIDS fight,  1/Sep/05
HIV/AIDS affecting quality of education,  2/Jun/05
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