Concerns as AIDS patients ditch ARVs in Kagera

A 2015 report of UNAIDS shows that Tanzania has succeeded to reduce new HIV infections as many people attend to hospitals to check their health status.


THERE are reports indicating that about 3,434 out of 12,354 patients who were using ARVs have absconded. This amounts to 33.1 per cent of those who are supposed to be on medication.

A representative from the Regional ManagerManagement and Development for Health (MOH), Ms Loyce Odero, raised a concern that there was an increase on Lost Follow-Up (LFU) among patients under ARVs, who stopped using the drugs after being cheated by few greedy religious leaders who claim that they possess powers to cure HIV/ AIDS.

Within the past few years many churches have sprang up with some of their leaders claiming to have super-powers to cure HIV/AIDS. Under Section 57 (iii) of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act No 28/2008 it is a criminal offence to give misleading statements on the cure and prevention of HIV/ AIDS without scientific evidence.

Those found guilty were liable to six months imprisonment term, a fine not less than one million shillings or both, she said. People living with HIV should not have self stigma.

The community too should not stigmatise them. Fighting stigma is a responsibility of all people and institutions including journalists and the private sector.

The Communication and Mobilisation Advisor with The International Centre for AIDS Prevention (ICAP), Ms Mihayo Bupamba revealed that five out of every 100 people in Kagera Region are believed to be living with HIV viruses while about 664,000 Tanzanians were living with HIV viruses.

About 36,000 Tanzanians were dying every year due to HIV/AIDS. Concerted efforts were needed to ensure that HIV/ AIDS is controlled. People should not relax in the war against the killer disease, she emphasized while launching the 4th Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS), for Kagera Region.

She revealed that in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar 525 selected areas including 16,000 households would be covered under the survey. 16 areas had been identified in Kagera region for the survey.

Selected wards in Biharamulo District include Kalenge and Nyarubungo wards. Ngara District (Kabanga and Ngara Mjini). Bukoba Rural District (Rubale and Kyamulaile), Muleba District (Muleba Mjini, Karambi and Ijumbi), Misenyi District (Kakunyu, Mtukula and Kanyigo).

In Karagwe District the selected wards include Rugu and Chonyonyo while in Kyerwa District selected wards include Rulongo and Chonyonyo. Under the 4th Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS) various parameters would be taken into account including New HIV infections and HIV prevalence, CD4 Count, ARV Drug Resistance (ADR), Risk behaviour, Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT), Hepatitis and Syphilis detection.

HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex including anal and oral sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.

Some bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV. HIV/AIDS has had a great impact on society, both as an illness and as a source of discrimination. The disease also has large economic impact. There is no cure or vaccine.

However, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. Treatment is recommended as soon as the diagnosis is made. Without treatment, the average survival time after infection is 11 years. In 2015 about 36.7 million people were living with HIV and it resulted in 1.1 million deaths.

Most of those infected live in Sub-Sahara Africa. Between its discovery and 2014 AIDS has caused an estimated 39 million deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), circumcision can reduce HIV infections by almost 60 per cent.

Until May, last year about 31,503 males out of the targeted 67,594 males were circumcised, implying 43 per cent achievement. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 call for combating of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Tanzanian health problems reflect those in other developing countries where the standard of living is low and housing and sanitation are inadequate.

In spite of the fact that various efforts have been made to extend primary health care coverage, partic ularly in rural areas, the scarcity of economic resource impedes the implementation of many health programs.

Tanzania has made significant gains in the scale-up of its antiretroviral (ART) programmes, with the number of people on ART steadily increasing since 2010.

The percentage of adults (aged 15 and over) living with HIV in Tanzania and receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) stood at 63 percent in 2016. When split by gender, this equates to 62 percent of women and 40 percent of men living with HIV receiving ART.

In total, 688,600 adults were receiving ART in 2015, compared to 500,000 in 2013. In 2016, 48 percent of children (aged 0-14) living with HIV were receiving ART. This equates to around 51,400 children.

In 2013, 1209 health facilities were providing HIV treatment – equating to three facilities per 100,000 people. In 2016, 1.4 million people were living with HIV in Tanzania.

This equates to an estimated HIV prevalence of 4.7 percent. In the same year, 55,000 people were newly infected with HIV, and 33,000 people died from an AIDS-related illness.

Although HIV prevalence has fallen in Tanzania over the past decade, tens of thousands of people become infected with HIV every year. Stigma against HIV positive people and human resource shortages are among the obstacles to ensuring a sustained reduction of new HIV infections and to providing care and treatment to those already infected.

Several strategies were being taken by health experts including male circumcision. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), male circumcision can control HIV transmission by almost 60 per cent.

The Regional HIV Prevalence rate currently stood at 4.8 per cent. Tanzanians should not relax in the fight against HIV/AIDS. More efforts were still needed to ensure that the disease was totally controlled by 2030.

About 37 million people globally are living with HIV out of whom 19 million are in Eastern and Southern African regions. UNAIDS 2015 report revealed that Tanzania had succeeded to reduce new HIV infections among adults from 72,000 cases recorded during 2013, to 69,000 cases during 2014 down to 48,000 cases during 2015.

Moreover, new infections among children dropped from 67,000 cases in 2010 to 56,000 cases in 2015. The report also indicated that about 1.4 million Tanzanians were living with HIV while those under Anti-Retrovials (ARVs) were about 800,000 which is about 57.1 per cent.

The National HIV Prevalence rate currently stood at 5.1 per cent. The Tanzanian Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) has identified a number of challenges relating to the scale-up of ART –including limited financial resource base for ART and for testing weak supply chain management systems and poor drug management and drug stockouts.

Tanzania’s HIV epidemic is generalised, with pockets of concentrated epidemics among key populations such as people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, mobile populations and sex workers.

Heterosexual sex accounts for the vast majority of all HIV infections in Tanzania and women are particularly affected. Concerns as AIDS patients ditch ARVs in Kagera A 2015 report of UNAIDS shows that Tanzania has succeeded to reduce new HIV infections as many people attend to hospitals to check their health status.

LATE last week, the humanitarian community activated a Level 3 emergency for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This trigger in the global humanitarian system is seldom used, and only after serious deliberation by the top echelons of the UN system.

The alarm is uniquely activated for the world’s most complex and challenging emergencies. It is decided on based on five criteria: scale, complexity, urgency, capacity and reputational risk.

It calls for the entire humanitarian system to scale up and respond to colossal needs. Today, only three other crises are recognized as system-wide Level 3 emergencies: Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

DR Congo has joined a club no nation actively seeks membership of. The central African nation passed a tipping point mid-last year when it recorded the highest increase of newly displaced people in the world.

While the country’s Kivu provinces in the east have long been plagued by conflict, Grand Kasaï in the southcentral region saw widespread violence erupt. Almost a million people fled their homes across the country in 2016.

2017 has shown little sign of improvement. Another million people have been displaced so far this year, largely because of continued violence in Kasaï and the escalation of inter-communal fighting in Tanganyika province.

An additional 100,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. A dangerous thread flows through these crises – shocking levels of violence-related displacement, destruction of homes, attacks on schools, child-soldier recruitment and widespread humanitarian needs.

It’s a toxic mix that has stretched the country’s humanitarian system to its limit. The Level 3 emergency was activated on 20 October across DR Congo, with a focus on Kasaï, Tanganyika and South Kivu provinces.

Violence in Kasaï, Tanganyika and South Kivu has displaced millions over the past year. Close to 4.3 million people in these areas are estimated to face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity.

The United Nations warns that further displacement is likely in these regions, as widespread armed group activities, unrest and violence fueled by ethnic and political conflict, affect many areas.

All this takes place against the backdrop of one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. At least 8.5 million people across DR Congo need assistance and protection. Close to two million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

Disease outbreaks, including cholera, affect tens of thousands of people each year. Aid organisations have asked for USD 812 million to respond to the crisis in 2017. That’s only USD 109 per person we want to help.

Despite this, the aid appeal is just 32 per cent funded almost 11 months into the year, making DR Congo one of the most underfunded crises in the world. IPS Congo’s wake-up call

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