May 25, 2007

States accused of 'aids hypocrisy'

International organisation Doctors Without Borders have accused donor organisations and southern African states of hypocrisy in combating HIV/AIDS, saying they were unwilling to change policies to expand antiretroviral treatment. The organisation said more than 70% of people needing antiretroviral in sub-Saharan Africa were not getting them. The shortage of health-care workers was largely to blame. None of the emergency measures put in place by governments or donor organisations to deal with the AIDS pandemic addressed the attrition of health-care workers. The group called on governments to develop and implement emergency plans to retain and recruit health-care workers, and improve their pay and working conditions. It also appealed to donors to review their policies and fund the salaries of health-care workers.
Doctors Without Borders member Sharonann Lynch said: "We do not need more pretty clinics from donors because these are standing empty. We need staff to run them." The report, dealing with the roll-out of antiretroviral treatment in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho, said that 8.000 people a day were dying of AIDS, and more than a million people who needed treatment in these countries were not getting it. South Africa had 718.000 people with HIV/AIDS and not getting treatment, followed by Mozambique with 192.900, Malawi with 109.100 and Lesotho with 40.300. South Africa was, however, also treating the largest number of people of the four countries - about 265.000 people.
To expand access to HIV care in rural settings, Doctors Without Borders relied on "task shifting" from doctors to nurses and from nurses to community workers, said Eric Goemaere, head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in South Africa. But most governments refused to let nurses dispense antiretrovirals. Governments had to be more flexible. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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