15 000 Aids victims likely to die in Congo, says MSF

Some 15 000 Aids victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo will likely die waiting for lifesaving drugs in the next three years, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned in a report describing “horrific” health care access.

About 85% of Aids patients in need of anti-retroviral (ARV) medication are not getting any, according to the organisation.

Medical coordinator Anja De Weggheleire said on Wednesday that the estimate of 15 000 dead in three years is horrifying but represents only the tip of the iceberg since most victims don’t even know they are infected.

“Many will die in silence and neglect,” she said.

The doctors blamed Congo’s government for giving little priority to fighting Aids and the withdrawal of donors. The leading supplier of ARV drugs in Congo, the Global Fund, is sharply reducing funding because countries that finance it have not kept their promises.

‘Condemned to die’
This pullback by donors “is directly threatening the lives of thousands of people in [Congo],” the statement added.

It called for Congo’s government to meet its commitment to provide free treatment to people living with HIV and Aids, and for donors to immediately mobilise resources “to ensure that patients waiting for ARV treatment are not condemned to die”.

Congo’s failure to address the crisis could be creating a generation of new Aids patients.

MSF said only 1% of pregnant women infected with HIV have access to the drugs that prevent them passing on the virus to their babies. As a result, about one-third of exposed babies will be born with HIV, it said.

An excessively high number of Aids patients arrive at the hospital with advanced illnesses and serious complications that create unacceptable suffering, all easily prevented with early ARV treatment, the doctors said.

Reminiscent of time before ARVs
“What I’m seeing in [Congo] has not existed elsewhere for years,” De Weggheleire said. “The situation here reminds me of the time before any anti-retroviral treatment was available.”

More than 1-million of Congo’s 70-million people are estimated to be infected with the Aids virus, with 350 000 of them in need of ARVs. Only 44 000 are receiving treatment, the doctors said, giving the Central African nation a coverage rate of just 15%, equal only to that of Sudan and war-torn Somalia on the continent.

Congo is still recovering from decades of dictatorship and back-to-back civil wars that ended in 2005. High levels of corruption have prevented the country’s massive mineral wealth from being translated into better lives for its people.

MSF was the first organisation to provide free ARV treatment in Congo, in 2003, and now treats more than 10% of all patients receiving the drugs in the country, including 20% of those on ARVs in Kinshasa, the capital. — Sapa-AP

Advertisting

ANC and the state step back from taking action against...

Despite alleged abuses of power and people’s trust, the ANC appears to have abandoned plans to reform the controversial Ingonyama Trust Board

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Chaos theory: How Jürgen Klopp has harnessed the unpredictable

The Liverpool manager has his side playing unstoppable football but it’s the attention to detail off the field that has bred the success

Miners speak out against Sibanye

Not a year into buying Lonmin, Sibanye is accused of mistreating the mineworkers who were injured eight years ago during the Marikana massacre. But the platinum giant says it is a miscommunication. Athandiwe Saba and Paul Botes visit Marikana to find out the truth
Advertising

Press Releases

Wellcome Trust award goes to UKZN mental health champion

Dr Andr? J van Rensburg, a senior researcher in UKZN's Centre for Rural Health, received the Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.

MTN gears up to deliver improved customer service

On 28 January, the first batch of MTN contract customers will be migrated onto the new customer service platform.

Request for expression of interest on analysis of quality and outcome indicators for regional and district hospitals in Lesotho

Introduction The Ministry of Health of Lesotho with the support of the World Bank funded Nutrition and Health Systems Strengthening...

MiX Telematics enhances in-vehicle video camera solution

The company has launched the gold MiX Vision Bureau Service, which includes driver-coaching tools to ensure risky driver behaviour can be addressed proactively and efficiently.

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA