Jackson Mbogela is the former Co-ordinator of PIUMA, the HIV-AIDS patients' self-help group in Makete District, who is currently studying on a Ford Foundation grant in the Netherlands. He comments on the press report that is reproduced immediately following this item in the news section of the Highlands Hope site.
For some of us, like me, who are hailing from Makete particularly in villages around Bulongwa we know the situation is worse than what have been stated in Thisday. The reporter has not mentioned a number of patients who are not able to access treatment in the hospital following treatment costs, walking distance. We suppose that HIV/AIDS drugs (ARV) should be free, however the OI treatment is very expensive in Bulongwa Hospital . We all understand that what kills people is NOT AIDS it is the OI. So why should the government think don't think on another simple alternative on the best way to help these people. The MoH subsidies salaries of some staff at BLH so as to bring the running cost down, yet the treatment is unaffordable. Usually the payroll is tempered and BLH has become like a private business.
PIUMA have applied to MoH to assist in distributing ARV through its Mobile clinic, MoHSW promised to send experts to asses PIUMA's infrastructures, this discussion was held in 2006 (by official letters) it had never been in Place no the watalaam from the MoHSW have ever visited PIUMA. PIUMA is still waiting! When I walk in Villages, I see people dying in their huts and when asked why the reason one will get is either they are not able to walk to Bulongwa, or they don't have money for traetment. Do we all need to have PhD to understand the relationship between Walking distance and access to treatment?
I know ever since the Cyflow Counters were replaced by MoH in the year 2006, hundreds of patients have not been tested their CD4, the problem have not stated only in February this year, since that Day when Professor Mwakyusa assured People of Bulongwa that he have solved the problem by replacing the machine. I am evry worried that even this machine at the District hospital that is said to be used to test the CD4 from Makete is real working for all the CD4s from the two big hospitals. Some times in the year 2007 this machine did not run for number of months as they did not have cleaning water.
I appreciate the work of people like Finigan, they show how are our expertise and people of learnt class of Tanzania always try to run for simple solution even though they know for sure the solutions will costs the life of the majority. Hundreds of people are dying in Bulongwa not because of HIV/AIDS or the associated OI, BUT they are dying from lack of proper treatment and proper care. I wonder if Professor Mwakyusa have ever been in Bulongwa or send any one to asses the situation ever since he was there with Hon. Lediana Mng'ong'o (representing TACAIDS) when bringing the FACS counter which we here to day is destroyed by rats.
I thought Lediana would find time in her tight schedule visit her voters in Iringa especially Makete people and see how things are moving, sit with them, discuss and come up with a proper strategies, at the end she should see if the implementation is accordingly. She is the chair lady for the parliamentarian Committee for HIV/AIDS, why NOT? Being the chairperson of the very powerful committee, TACAIDS Commissioner now she has more power and chances to help Makete.
It is sad that HIV is afflicting the peasants in Makete, but those who are deciding how should these people be helped are in Dar Es Salaam, many of them had never been in Makete, they work from hear say. That is why we always end up hearing more fund raising to help orphans and HIV/AIDS work in Makete, of which most of the cash has never been transferred to Makete (Tsh.>52 Mil 2005). If they would have come to Makete and make an assessment they would understood what is needed is not fund raising, it is commitment, transparency and corrupt free responsible community including leadership.
It is Pity!