PIUMA and village leaders demand better community-based HIV services and more local control

PIUMA is spear-heading a drive to gather signatures from villagers demanding improvement of treatment for HIV-AIDS in the Bulongwa area of Makete District. Already, 1,350 people have signed after only three village meetings. There are nearly one hundred villages in Makete District.

The petition also requests that HIV patients and the local community be licensed to own and manage a local clinic with the right to set policy about treatment methods including the choice of technology for clinical assessment.

The demands come as a result of ongoing reduction of services from Bulongwa Lutheran Hospital after a lockout of the EAWM-sponsored HIV care team in April by Lutheran church and hospital leaders. Since that time, more than a dozen patients who were registered at the clinic have died, according to PIUMA.

Village leaders agree with PIUMA that their own community-controlled clinic should have a preponderant voice for people living with HIV-AIDS in its governance.

In a letter to the principal secretary of the Ministry of Health, PIUMA and the local community have also stated clearly their wish to partner and work with Partec, PIUMA's technology supplier and a leading innovator in medical testing solutions for resource poor settings.

PIUMA activists say they are satisfied with the performance of Partec's Cyflow® machine which had been in use in Bulongwa for almost a year before the hospital lockout, helping more than 600 patients in Bulongwa and another 600 patients from a local district hospital. Several hundred patients continue to benefit from Cyflow technology at the Highlands Hope partner hospital in Ikonda.

PIUMA, whose name means "test and live in hope", is active on a range of health, advocacy and economic development issues, fighting for justice and for dignity for people living with HIV, their families and their villages. PIUMA members are proud Tanzanians; their work is deeply rooted in Tanzanian law and in their country's traditions of equality and community-based democracy.

August 1, 2006.