Another victory for PIUMA!

After representing Makete at last week's Tanzania Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO) meeting in Mbeya, PIUMA has been chosen as the NGO to once again represent its district as a member of the District Health Committee. The formation of this committee will enable NGOs to work more closely with government, evaluating the quality of services provided and overseeing the use of public funds.

PIUMA has been asked to send three representatives to the committee, PIUMA's executive officer, and two members to be chosen by the Executive Committee. The members will be selected based on their ability to speak with conviction and stand for their rights, and will be chosen when the Executive Committee convenes at the end of this month.

Among the constituents of the District Health Committee will be two District Councillors, those from Bulongwa and Kipogala, as well as the Makete District's accountant. Starting in mid-August, the committee will visit all the villages in the district and report on the status of health care provision in each.

The creation of the District Health Committee spawns from TANGO's fierce mandate for NGOs to participate in the making of government health budgets and to force government to evaluate their services with NGOs present. Expenses for the committee's prospective three week travels are to be funded by the district.

PIUMA was chosen to represent Makete by the chairman of Makete's NGOs based on the organization's great successes over the past few years. As the NGO with the largest membership base in the Iringa region, PIUMA was the first to perform mass testing and counselling for HIV, and has tested more people than any other NGO in Iringa. PIUMA is also widely known for its promotion of patient rights and its fight against corruption.

Furthermore, these accomplishments saw PIUMA selected by all the districts of Iringa to air on Tanzanian National Television (TVT) next week. In the television interview, Taimu Sanga described the often rocky relationship between government and NGOs and demanded more government support of NGO projects. He explained that donor money filtered through government frequently disappears, as was the case with PIUMA's huge testing campaign last year, that tested over 2000 people - a service government promised to back, yet no public money was ever allotted to the project. He also discussed the failure of government to provide CD4 counts in Makete District due equipment failure and neglect.

This honour is but another proof that PIUMA's strength is causing a stir in Tanzania's HIV/AIDS services sector and is recognized throughout the country for its achievements in patient rights and accountability.