AIDS drug supplies dwindling in Swaziland

Jun 28, 2011 By PHATHIZWE-CHIEF ZULU , Associated Press

(AP) -- Cash-strapped Swaziland's state hospitals have only two months' supplies of AIDS drugs, the country's health minister has told parliament in an assessment that AIDS patients and activists took as a death sentence.

State media on Tuesday quoted Benedict Xaba as making the remarks to parliament a day before. He blamed the country's , linked to a drop in customs revenues amid a worldwide recession.

More than 60,000 Swazis depend on anti-retroviral , known as ARVs, distributed free at government hospitals.

Swaziland, with a population of about 1 million, has the world's highest percentage of people living with the virus that causes AIDS. More than a quarter of Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 are believe to carry HIV.

Swaziland is seeking international loans to cope with its budget crisis. Xaba says should not lose hope, but news of dwindling drug supplies has worried patients.

Without AIDS drugs, "we shall die," said Patrick Mngometulu, an AIDS patient who has been on government-supplied drugs since 2003.

"Mothers who take ARVs will be worse affected. ARVs help children not to get from their mothers. So if mothers stop taking the ARVs their children are in danger. We lose hope, and the situation will decrease productivity of the infected," Mngometulu said.

Thembi Nkambule, director of the Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, said the government has made strides in combating AIDS, moving from 15,000 people on ARVs in 2005 to 60,000 today. But now, she fears gains will be lost.

"Swazis will die in numbers. Hope will be lost," Nkambule said.

A pro-democracy movement in Swaziland, southern Africa's last absolute monarchy, has gained some ground since the government announced in March its plan to freeze civil service salaries and sell off state-run companies. But the government has cracked down hard on protests, and reformists have had to contend with reverence for the monarchy among many Swazis.

Activists have criticized King Mswati III of living lavishly while most Swazis live in poverty, and of harassing and jailing pro-democracy activists.

Explore further: Condoms 'too small' for Uganda men

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Resignation of SA health minister sought

Sep 06, 2006

Pressure is mounting on South Africa's Health Minister to resign for suggesting garlic, lemons and African potatoes as alternative HIV treatment.

More AIDS patients die of other causes

Sep 19, 2006

New York's Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control report has said it is becoming less common for AIDS patients to die of causes related to the disease.

Anti-AIDS drugs slow deaths in S.Africa: study

Mar 11, 2011

South Africa's AIDS deaths have fallen by nearly 25 percent due to scaled up access to life-saving drugs, which the government for years had refused to provide, new research has shown.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0