Rights activists link HIV/AIDS in Zambia to poor diet

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Zambia's Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, a Catholic think-tank and campaign vehicle for increased social justice in the country, Wednesday called for a holistic approach to health delivery services so that the issue of HIV/AIDS can be tied to poor nutrition in the nation.
"As it is well known, effective health delivery does not start and end with hospitalisation or visitations to health centres.
It is a whole array involving the kind of living conditions people experience," Muweme Muweme, the JCTR's co-ordinator of the Social Conditions Research Project, noted.
The social advocacy unit believes strongly that to achieve effectiveness in the treatment of AIDS, government should be in the forefront of promoting healthy life styles that will involve people having access to education, nutrition, shelter and all the requirements that make up the totality of healthy living.
Without these preconditions, Zambia will continue to experience an over-stretched health delivery system and the problem of HIV/AIDS will seem insurmountable.
The JCTR said it was particularly appalled by government's apparent inability to raise household incomes, particularly in the light of ever rising cost of living.
According to its studies, presently a family of six living in Lusaka needs to spend 450,850 kwacha (nearly US$100) on food alone.
If other costs such as housing, water, energy, transport to work, school needs and others are included, the total cost is conservatively put at 1,110,150 kwacha.
Muweme notes that the inadequate incomes now available to Zambians have placed a disproportionate burden on women who, in addition to being household managers, income and food providers, are in the majority of cases also caregivers to AIDS patients.
"Critically important in relationship to AIDS treatment of a lack of an adequate household income is the denial of a good home psychological environment necessary for the support and encouragement to AIDS patients," Muweme said.
Without criticising government for rushing to treat AIDS patients through a programme involving the distribution of a cocktail of drugs commonly known as anti-retrovirals, the JCTR wishes this programme was tied to good nutrition.
"It is important as a matter of policy that such a programme moves alongside a mechanism of ensuring that those suffering from AIDS have access to good nutrition," Muweme said.
The depressed state of the economy have for long been ignored by planners, mediating international organisations and government itself, he added.

05 Maio 2004 10:28:00

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