HIV Clinic Sees Increase in Numbers, Decrease in Funding
A sense of desperation hung in the air as a hush came over the packed room of HIV patients and health workers as their general meeting began.
The government run Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) program in association with Action Africa- supported community based organization Health and Development for All, were meeting to discuss the future of the program and ultimately the future of the patients.
Maridi County Hospital administrator, Samuel Aliga, attended the event to support the program.
“We opened this clinic last year and it has helped a lot of people,” Aliga said. “Before people had to walk long distances and the number of clients are still increasing.”
The clinic originally was operating two days a week but has since increased to have some type of operation almost every day. The 10-person staff must divide their time between assistance in the general hospital and the ART facility.
The program is currently treating 366 HIV positive patients in Maridi County, South Sudan. The clinic collaborates with the antenatal care that screened over 1,000 pregnant women, of which about 50 started Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).
“However, poor turnouts of males for counseling or treatment makes us worried about the spread of HIV through the community,” Aliga added.
Original supplies through Global Fund provided basic furniture, computers, staff incentives and medications for the patients. But by the end of July 2012, funding will phase out leaving a gaping hole in the medical need for the community.
Action Africa’s Dr. Dricile Ratib, after seeing the great need for a local treatment facility for those with HIV/Aids, applied for the original funding.
“We will continue helping the patients whether there is money or not,” Ratib said addressing those gathered. “But we are trying to look for ways to see how we can continue supporting the facility although it is not easy right now.”
Ratib later identified that the lack of funding for continued medication could prove fatal for many of the patients. He explained that a lapse in treatment could lead to drug resistance which can spread in the community.
“I also want to thank the patients for continuing with their treatment.” Ratib said. “If they stop and build a resistance to the drugs, then all of us would have failed.”