Africa Asia Middle East عربي Français Português Subscribe IRIN Site Map
PlusNews
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
Please take our short audience survey
 Tuesday 08 July 2008
 
Home 
Africa 
Weekly reports 
In-Depth reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Events 
Jobs 
Really Simple Syndication Feeds 
About PlusNews 
Donors 
Contact PlusNews 
 
Print report
CHAD: Overview


Photo: Anna Koblanck/IRIN
Oure Cassoni refugee camp on the Darfur border
JOHANNESBURG, 27 June 2008 (PlusNews) - Chad has experienced decades of armed rebellions and weak governments, so a looming AIDS crisis is the last thing it needs.

The West African country that sprawls across the Sahel is among the world's poorest; its development indicators, especially regarding women, are abysmal. It has less than 600km of tarred roads, only a few hundred doctors, and just 26 percent of Chadian adults can read.

In the area near its eastern border the country hosts 250,000 refugees who have fled the fighting in Sudan's Darfur region, while in the south some 57,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have come to seek shelter.

A number of rebel groups are also active in the arid east, and since 2006 have twice reached the capital, Ndjamena. Roughly 180,000 Chadians have been made homeless by the insurgency.

The silent partner of this humanitarian crisis is a potential HIV disaster. The national prevalence rate is estimated at 3.3 percent, but in the south, among both local and refugee populations, it is roughly 10 percent.

"In the south a really serious epidemic is underway," said Loretta Hieber Girardet, senior HIV AIDS advisor to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "It's a crisis within a crisis."

But, she told IRIN/PlusNews, donors and the humanitarian community have been slow to recognise the link between HIV and vulnerable populations, and are only belatedly scaling up AIDS programming for refugees and displaced people.

"One of the biggest challenges has been the lack of interest by donors to recognise AIDS," she said, because "donors do not see it as a priority" when confronted by more traditional spending demands for refugees, internally displaced persons, and the host population.

Despite the poverty of its people, landlocked Chad is sitting on oil reserves worth billions of dollars. Production began in 2003 in the south, with the oil pumped through a pipeline to a port in Cameroon - a project financed by the World Bank on the understanding that 70 percent of revenues would be channelled into development programmes.

Oil revenue of US$1.35 billion was forecast for 2008, based on a price per barrel of US$100. The price of oil is currently above US$140 per barrel and could hit US$170. But the government admits that much of its oil windfall will go to buying weapons rather than securing the health of its people. Budgeted spending on AIDS for 2008 has fallen compared with 2007.

Chad's AIDS response has been fitful and largely dependent on donor grants. In 2006 the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria temporarily froze spending because of the government's lack of transparency in managing the money. The rollouts of antiretroviral drugs and prevention of mother-to-child treatment programmes have crawled forward.

"We look at a country like Chad and say, 'Three percent prevalence is not a problem'; but it is a problem, because it can grow," said Hieber Girardet.

The right conditions for spreading HIV infection are present: Chad's health care system is demoralised and barely operates in the provinces; in the Muslim north and east of the country, orthodox awareness and prevention programmes are hamstrung by traditional beliefs.

"For many people here, it is blasphemous to speak of sexuality and AIDS. We are trying to raise alarm bells, but people refuse to listen to us," one AIDS activist told IRIN/PlusNews.

Among the lessons learnt in Chad is that HIV interventions need to be integrated into the broader humanitarian response, and be culturally sensitive, said Hieber Girardet. "Attempts to do AIDS programming such as condom distribution had to be looked at in a different light, as it wasn't working. Camp elders [among the refugees in the east] were offended at the suggestion that any sort of sexual activity was going on," she noted.

oa/he

New in-depth: AIDS in Chad – the neglected crisis


Theme(s): (IRIN) Care/Treatment - PlusNews, (IRIN) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), (IRIN) Prevention - PlusNews, (IRIN) PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews

[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report
Countries
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:


Submit your request
 More on Chad
04/Jul/2008
GLOBAL: Balm to help ease way to climate change deal before G8?
02/Jul/2008
GLOBAL: NGOs call for more funds, investment in agriculture
01/Jul/2008
GLOBAL: US farm bill "too little, too late" for developing world
30/Jun/2008
CHAD: Weapons instead of ARVs
27/Jun/2008
GLOBAL: Jury still out over food impact of Midwest floods
 More on Care/Treatment - PlusNews
04/Jul/2008
UGANDA: Overcrowded prisons heighten TB risk
04/Jul/2008
SOUTH AFRICA: TB treatment programmes failing
03/Jul/2008
SOUTH AFRICA: TB plan has a gap between talk and action
03/Jul/2008
RWANDA: Military to lead the way in male circumcision
03/Jul/2008
SOUTH AFRICA: Drug-resistant TB demands new approaches
Share:
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Radio | Film & TV | Photo | E-mail subscription
Feedback · E-mail Webmaster · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Bookmark PlusNews · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2008
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.