‘Speedy measures needed for people with AIDS’

National, Normal

THE Government will have to come up with some quick measures to safeguard the lives of the thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in the
country, according to National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) chairman Sir Peter Barter.
The distribution of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to people living with HIV/AIDS over the next three to five years would be affected, Sir Peter said.
The Health Department, in the meantime, is working on a second plan; to get ARV for only those who are currently taking the drug and not for new patients.
This means people who need the drug will not be prescribed withARV and they could end up dying.
“This is unacceptable and unnecessary,” Sir Peter said, adding it would not have happened if the proposal submitted by the department to Global Fund for round nine funding was accepted.
The refusal by Global Fund highlights inefficiencies in the Health Department, the NACS and the need for urgent assistance for the sake of PLWHAs.
In a letter to Planning secretary Joseph Lelang last Tuesday, Sir Peter asked that immediate measures be put in place to assist the National AIDS Council (NAC) and NACS to adequately budget for programmes that are designed to combat the virus.
“HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest threats to the LNG projects, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining projects and industrial development generally over the next 40 or so years.
“We accept the challenge; we cannot continue to live in a state of denial,” Sir Peter wrote.  
“I ask you and your department to assist the NAC and the NACS in planning and budgeting adequately for programmes which will be designed to effectively combat the virus.
“My worst fear is that if these donors or
development partners decide to seal their envelopes and leave, all work or programmes will stop as NACS will simply not have funds to carry out the planned programmes with its many partners to effectively fight against HIV/AIDS. 
“Most of these programmes have been planned on a multi-year basis.
“I urge you to consider these facts and I ask that we develop a more cordial and meaningful dialogue between ourselves and our organisations to save this country from further destruction from HIV/AIDS. 
“Your presence at NAC meetings would I greatly believe assist this cause,” Sir Peter wrote.