"); NewWindow.document.close(); return false; }

IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS News and information service | Southern Africa | SOUTH AFRICA: AIDS response becomes a test of faith | Care Treatment | News Items
Friday 2 March 2007
Home About PlusNews Country Profiles News Briefs Special Reports Subscribe Archive IRINnews


East Africa
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
·South Africa
West Africa
Middle East
RSS - News Briefs


PlusNews E-mail Subscription

SOUTH AFRICA: AIDS response becomes a test of faith

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

©  Gretchen Wilson/IRIN

Religious organisations can contribute to an effective AIDS response

JOHANNESBURG, 13 February (PLUSNEWS) - Local and international experts agree with important new findings this week that faith-based organisations (FBOs) have a major contribution to make to curbing HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) study, 'Appreciating Assets: Mapping, Understanding, Translating and Engaging Religious Health Assets in Zambia and Lesotho', found that Christian hospitals and health centres were providing about 40 percent of anti-AIDS care and treatment services in Lesotho, while almost a third of the treatment facilities in Zambia were run by FBOs.

Dr Francois Venter, director of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHIVS), said the findings reinforced the long-held belief of those in the field of AIDS care that combining the strengths of religion and science could bring greater rewards in the fight against the pandemic.

"Churches and FBOs are uniquely positioned to help realise the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in Africa as a result of their stature in communities," Venter told IRIN PlusNews.

However, the report noted that despite providing a substantial proportion of the care available in developing countries, FBOs were rarely recognised as essential contributors to universal efforts to access treatment and care.

Patrick Purtill, director of New Partner Outreach in the office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator, which implements the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEFPAR), warned that failure to understand the role FBOs played in combating AIDS could undermine efforts to scale up services.

Purtill said, "Religion has and always will form part of the foundation of many rural and urban communities. It has been there from before HIV and will continue to be there long after HIV. We [health policymakers] have to acknowledge that FBOs possess an extensive geographic reach and a well-developed infrastructure in the developing world."

US President George W. Bush has routinely called for partnerships with religious charities and PEPFAR has regularly funded FBOs worldwide. In 2005, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) granted US $591 million to FBOs, totalling 14 percent of all grants, according to a March report by the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

"With networks that reach even the most remote villages, many FBOs and community-based organisations are suitably placed to promote stigma reduction and prevention messages, as well as provide HIV counselling and testing, home care, clinical services and antiretroviral treatment," Purtill pointed out.

According to WHO, between 30 percent and 70 percent of the health infrastructure in Africa was owned by FBOs, but there was often little cooperation between FBOs and mainstream public health programmes.

"This data demands that we continue to explore and expand the field ... [it] is the first serious study of FBO engagement in HIV/AIDS, but it cannot be the last," said Ted Karpf, partnerships officer in the HIV/AIDS department of WHO, in a statement. "We have only scratched the surface of what is happening, and it is already clear that there is so much more to learn."


Access the complete findings: www.arhap.uct.ac.za

More details of PEPFAR's work with faith-based organisations: www.pepfar.gov


Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
Condom application given a hand ,  19/Feb/07
A true test of love on Valentine's Day,  14/Feb/07
Rural orphan-care programmes struggle,  12/Feb/07
Farmworkers challenged to curb risky behaviour,  7/Feb/07
Clarity sought in microbicides furore,  7/Feb/07
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

[Back] [Home Page]

Click here to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about PlusNews Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to Webmaster

Copyright © IRIN 2007
The material contained on www.PlusNews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All PlusNews material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.