HIV patients suffer as NGO withdraws

Thabitha Moyana has been living with HIV since 2005. Photos of her hang precariously on the walls of her Mpumalanga house. One could hardly believe the photos were taken when she had already tested positive to the deadly disease – as she looks so well.

“I had already tested positive but I was on treatment. Hope Trust used to help me to acquire ARVs at Birimahwe Mission Hospital and ever since they left I have been struggling to get treatment and my situation has deteriorated,” explained Moyana, who is now visibly sick.

She showed this reporter some of the photos taken when she was seriously ill – before she was put on ARV therapy, showing that she responded miraculously to ARV treatment.

“My immune system responded well – but now that I have stopped, I am afraid I am going back to my past condition. If I do not get back on treatment, it is only a matter of time before I say good bye to my children,” she said. Her dilemma is shared by many HIV patients in Hwange and the surrounding area.

Gift Gomano, waiting to be attended to at Birimahwe ission, said he had travelled from Lukos, to get his ARV drugs.

“When Hope Trust was around we used to get our monthly distribution without hassles, they used to visit our area with hospital staff and the ambulance every month and now they are gone we are facing problems,” he said.

Another patient in the queue was a 12-year-old boy, who said his name should not be published for fear of victimisation at school, said he was finding it difficult to get the drugs.

“They used to bring the drugs home and there was this white lady who was very friendly to me, she always encourage me and now every month I have to miss one school day to collect my medication and I am usually delayed. The nurses do not care, I feel they blame for my condition but it was not my fault,” he said.

According to Afro AIDS forum statistics, Hwange has a high prevalence rate of AIDS due to its location as a stopover for long-distance haulage trucks.

An official from the Trust acknowledged that the project had stopped, but gave no reasons. A Catholic nun who works at Birimahwe Hospital said the organisation had done a splendid job but their coffers had run dry.

AIDS activist Mutandwa Masuku said the government should continue with the projects when the NGOs left.

“The government responsible of the welfare of its citizens – NGOs are there to assist. People should not die because donor funds allocated to a certain project have been spent.”

The situation has been worsened by recent allegations that provincial hospitals are selling the life-saving drug to private pharmacies.

Post published in: Analysis

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