ALLEVIATING THE IMPACT OF HIV
Of course we have programmes in Zambia to combat HIV/AIDS and its consequences. There are Government programmes, aid programmes, NGO programmes, community programmes and church programmes. Some very dedicated officials in the Ministry of Health struggle to coordinate all these. Part of the problem is lack of resources - yes. But if I may be pardoned for making an observation that may hurt some of you here: a large part of the problem is that HIV/AIDS is not the only item on the agenda of many of these programmes.
We have recently had a large anti-AIDS programme that seems to have been more concerned with funding universities in the donor country than with taking action on the front line. We at Kara did get a small grant from this huge programme - and we were then visited by 26 donor consultants flown in at a much higher cost. This makes me wonder about the real purpose of this donor funding.
The various churches have policies which contradict each other and cause confusion. Use condoms, don’t use condoms, condoms are not effective anyway. Talk about sex, don’t talk about sex. Who are we to believe? And similar differences appear between NGOs.
Even our politicians seem to have difficulty with forming a single policy aimed at the problem of HIV/AIDS and its effects. One Minister put condom advertisements on the TV - one featuring our football captain Kalushya Bwalya and the other a famous Zairean singer, Tshala Muana. Along comes another Minister and has them taken off as “immoral” - the first because Kalushya is married, and second because Tshala is unmarried. Our MPs are dying of AIDS like anyone else (we have lost over 20 out of a Parliament of 150 in four years) but they don’t seem to be able to form a common position. So the subject of AIDS is hardly debated at all.
For what it is worth I think this: that if HIV/AIDS and its consequences were the only item on the agenda of all of us who are in the fight then we would get a lot further with the resources we already have.
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