20 November 2001

NAMIBIA: Network for People Living with HIV-AIDS launched

African governments, including Namibia, came under heavy criticism for spending more funds on war while HIV-positive people were dying in large numbers because of a lack of drugs.

A visiting Ugandan army major, Rubaramira Ruranga, who was diagnosed HIV-positive 18 years ago, warned Namibia that its small population of 1,7 million would be extinct if it failed to wake up. „You are just too few and if you are not careful, HIV can cause extinction. All of you can easily go. It's not impossible,“ warned Ruranga, who was a guest speaker at the national launching of the Namibia National Network for People Living with HIV-AIDS. The group is better known as Lironga Eparu which means „Learn to Survive“.

Ruranga bemoaned the fact that African governments „spent money killing others“ while their people were dying due to lack of access to life-prolonging AIDS drugs. „For them drugs are expensive and bullets are not expensive. We must see how we spend. Children that are born without a choice are dying. We have to hold the orphan explosion,“ the father of a two year old girl and two month old healthy boy said. Ruranga, still a major in the Ugandan army, said his two children were proof that access to drugs slows down deaths caused by AIDS among children.

He was supported by prominent AIDS activist Emma Tuahepa-Kama-poha who said Namibians were good at policy-making but not so much at implementation. Citing cases of discrimination by housing providers, banks and job providers, Emma said there was still a lot of prejudice and lack of access to proper treatment for the infected. „If we get care and love... no discrimination from people, including families, we will make a difference. If the Government starts negotiating with us on its programmes and activities, we will make a difference,“ Emma said. AIDS activists said there was a lot of feet-dragging on the provision of AIDS drugs to the needy. (The Namibian)


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