News / Health

MSF: West, Central Africa Lagging in HIV Care

FILE - A physician talks to a patient who is HIV positive at a social and medical assistance clinic in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday March 19, 2001.
FILE - A physician talks to a patient who is HIV positive at a social and medical assistance clinic in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday March 19, 2001.
Jennifer Lazuta
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says only 20 percent of people living with HIV in French-speaking west and central Africa are receiving the antiretroviral drug treatment they need.  This is despite "enormous progress" made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, where the disease is more prevalent.   

MSF says governments and aid agencies need to do more to help those living with HIV in West and Central Africa.

According to the group, despite a relatively low prevalence of HIV in the region, less than five percent of the population, only a fifth of HIV patients who need antiretroviral treatment (ART) receive it.  Countless others die before they are diagnosed due to a lack of access to testing.

In southern African countries, such as Malawi, an estimated 66 percent of people living with HIV have access to ART.

Dr. David Maman is an HIV specialist with MSF.  He spoke to VOA from Montpellier, France, where experts are meeting this week to discuss strategies to improve HIV testing and care in Francophone Africa.

“In some parts of Africa, like western Africa, you have very few physicians," Maman said. "And in some countries, only physicians are allowed to prescribe ARTs ...  So we do not get the same rate of ART coverage that we can get in eastern and southern Africa where the outcomes so far are a bit better.”

Maman said that training less qualified health workers, such as nurses, to administer ART has been a successful strategy in other African countries, particularly in rural settings.

He said allowing non-physicians to test for and treat HIV not only reaches more people, but frees doctors up for other, more complicated cases.

Another challenge in west and central Africa is that HIV testing and treatment is not usually included in regular health care services.  Patients must go to specialized clinics, usually in big cities.

“If someone comes to a clinic and he has a sign of infection that he has HIV, he must tested and if possible initiated [into treatment] where he lives, so that he does not have to go hundreds of kilometers or wait for the doctor to be present in the district.  So it is very important this issue of integration of care,” said Maman.

Maman says having free, nearby access to testing and ART is a proven way of reducing HIV transmission.

In Malawi for example, a 2013 MSF-led study found that they were able to reduce the HIV transmission rate to less than half a percent in selected communities by decentralizing treatment centers and incorporating HIV-care into rural clinics.

Maman said that similar strategies are also possible in west and central Africa.  But it will take strong political will and significant financial resources.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs