The world is mourning the death of Nelson Mandela http://www.afripol.org/afripol/item/1492-on-nelson-mandela.html. Some are also reflecting on his achievements and failures. One of the most controversial points of discussion is Mandela’s actions over South Africa’s AIDS crisis. One of the biggest criticisms leveled against Mandela is that he was silent over AIDS in the crucial years before and just as it became a pandemic in South Africa.
It is difficult to deny that, on the one hand, HIV infection rate statistics reveal that the virus exploded under Mandela’s watch. In 1990 as little as 0.2% of the South African population was infected with HIV. In 1994, Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa. Two years later the infection rate had risen to 3%. By the time Mandela left office in 1999, the number of HIV-infected South Africans, at 10% of the population, had clearly spiraled out of control. Today the number of HIV/AIDS cases in South Africa is around 6.1 million, or around 12% of the total population. It is more prevalent among the adult population, with over 18% of people infected. Moreover, the death rate is estimated to be 240,000, which has left 2.5 million South African children as orphans.
There are many theories that may explain why so little was done in response to HIV/AIDS during the Mandela presidency. Many believe that the stigma associated with HIV- as a virus primarily spread through unprotected sexual intercourse- prevented the South African leadership from speaking out about it. Others have suggested that, with South Africa just emerging from Apartheid and the South African economy and welfare at the forefront of political discussions, the mystery virus, which people still knew relatively little about, just was not on the priority list.
Mandela has also been criticized for his “silence” when his successor, Thabo Mbeki, made public statements, which have been widely interpreted as AIDS denialism <http://www.csicop.org/si/show/aids_denialism_vs._science>. Mbeki was heavily influenced by a clique of academics who argued against the link between HIV and AIDS. One of the most prominent was Peter Duisberg, Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology at Berkeley, California. Duisberg argued that HIV was a symptom not a cause of AIDS and AIDS had multiple causes, including drug use, promiscuous homosexual sex and malnutrition. Of course, in fact, as STD Panels points out, AIDS “starts as HIV, a condition which begins to attack cells within the human body”<http://www.stdpanels.com/information-links/the-dangers-of-sharing-needles-aids-and-hepatitis/>.
In the late 1990s, echoes of Duisberg’s argument could be heard in Mbeki’s words as he addressed South African television audiences questioning whether HIV and AIDS were linked. He also suggested that HIV could be cured through home remedies rather than expensive Western anti-retroviral drugs. Mandela did not publicly contradict these claims.
*Breaking the silence*
Mandela did start to speak up about AIDS as South Africa moved into the 21st century, however. An international AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa, was a watershed. At that conference, Thabo Mbeki made a famous speech, claiming that AIDS was linked to poverty: “One of the consequences of this crisis is the deeply disturbing phenomenon of the collapse of immune systems among millions of our people, such that their bodies have no natural defense against attack by many viruses and bacteria,” he said.
“Clearly, if we, as African countries, had the level of development to enable us to gather accurate statistics about our own countries, our morbidity and mortality figures would tell a story that would truly be too frightening to contemplate. As I listened and heard the whole story told about our own country, it seemed to me that we could not blame everything on a single virus,” Mbeki went on.
When it was Mandela’s turn to speak, he was subtly critical of this view; he referred to an argument that was taking attention away "from the real life-and-death issues we are confronted with as a country, a region, a continent and a world", an argument which Mandela claimed should be put aside. Although Mandela praised Mbeki he also called for the use of anti-retroviral drugs to prevent the transmission of AIDS from mothers to their children. Mandela’s decision to speak up proved a game-changer for South Africa. From then on, the Mbeki government quietened its reservations about HIV and the use anti-retroviral drugs. A treatment strategy was agreed and some treatment drugs began to drip into the public health sector.
Towards the end of his life, AIDS became the only subject that Mandela would accept invitations to speak on. He also set up the charity 46664, named after his prison number on Robben Island. Mandela was a co-chair on the advisory board of the International Aids Trust. Mandela also told the world that his son, Makgatho, had died of AIDS in January 2005 aged 54, which many have interpreted as a deliberate attempt to combat the silence and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
According to a Harvard University report<http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/11/south-african-aids-policy-tied-to-330000-lives-lost/>, AIDS denialism under the Mbeki government between 2000 and 2005 cost at least 330,000 South African lives. The number of deaths due to the lack of action taken when Mandela was President remains unknown. What is clear, however, is that Mandela still played a pivotal role in pushing for anti-retroviral and combating the stigma against AIDs in South Africa at the turn of the century. With millions of South Africans living with the disease today, and South Africa also struggling to get to grips with numerous social and economic problems, Mandela embodies the important lesson that it is never too late to do what is right.
With 60,000 Nigerian children infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) last year, Nigeria has the highest number of children with the virus in the world, according to the latest report by the United Nations.
The number of children infected with the virus is higher than that of any other country in the world, and is a source of worry for experts with one describing it as “alarming,” a report by an online news medium, Premium Times, has said.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan said for Nigeria and other African nations to successfully control the HIV/AIDS scourge, the continent must effectively tackle poverty.
The UN report titled “2013 Progress Report on The Global Plan: Towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive” is the most recent on the global plan which seeks an elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015, as well as keep their mothers alive.
Despite the efforts of the federal and state governments to check the spread of HIV, the report shows that the prevalence rate of HIV among Nigerian children has remained relatively stagnant with no significant improvement; while that of several other countries was improving with fewer prevalence rates than before.
“In several countries, the pace of decline in the numbers of children newly infected has been slow and the numbers have actually risen in Angola. Nigeria has the largest number of children acquiring HIV infection - nearly 60,000 in 2012, a number that has remained largely unchanged since 2009,” the report stated.
The UN said it was worried about the prevalence rate of HIV among Nigerian children and warned that if Nigeria is not serious in curbing HIV in children, part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will not be realised by 2015.
“Without urgent action in Nigeria, the global target for 2015 is unlikely to be reached,” the report added.
While Nigeria witnessed stagnancy since 2009 in the prevalence of HIV among children, several other sub-Saharan African countries witnessed a massive reduction in their prevalence rate.
Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia all witnessed a 50-per-cent decline in new HIV infections in children, while two more countries - the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe - are very close to achieving this target; prompting the UN to warn Nigeria to sit up in the fight against HIV in children.
Nigeria’s comparatively poor performance in combating HIV transmission to children also reflected among the 21 countries under the Global Plan watch of the UN.
“Nigeria accounts for one third of all new HIV infections among children in the 21 priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa: the largest number of any country. Progress here is therefore critical to eliminating new HIV infections among children globally.
“Nearly all indicators assessed show stagnation and suggest that Nigeria is facing significant hurdles,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Jonathan has attributed the rising HIV/AIDS scourge to prevalent poverty and urged African leaders to take a bold step in tackling it.
The president, at the opening of a meeting of the Global Power Women Network Africa in Abuja, urged African leaders to go beyond the provision of free test kits and anti-retroviral drugs to effectively confront the HIV/AIDS scourge.
“For us in Africa, to fight AIDS, we must also fight poverty, African leaders must ensure that we create wealth for the citizens,’’ he said.
He recalled that as governor in Bayelsa State, he initiated a scheme whereby the state was giving N10,000 to each person living with AIDS in addition to free drugs.
Giving statistics of the HIV-AIDS in Africa, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said of the 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the world as at 2011, 69 per cent were in Africa.
HIV/AIDS Treatment Centers in Nigeria
· Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia
· Federal Medical Centre, Yola
· General Hospital, Ganaye, Adamawa
· General Hospital, Mubi
· Specialist Hospital, Yola
Akwa Ibom State
· University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo
· Elyon Life Care, Uyo
· Emmanuel General Hospital, Eket
· General Hospital, Ikot Abasi
· St. Luke’s Hospital, Akwa Ibom
· St. Mary’s Hospital, Akwa Ibom
· Hospital Management Board, GH Arua Akpan, Esien Udua
· Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Nnewi
· St Charles Borromero Catholic Hospital, Onitsha
· General Hospital, Ekwulobia
· General Hospital, Akwa
· Comprehensive Health Centre, Anaocha, Nneni
· Comprehensive Health Centre, Dunukosia, Ukpo
· Comprehensive Health Centre, Ohi, Umunya
· General Hospital, Onitsha
· Rushgreen Hospital, 4, Uawannabampa Rd, Onitsha
· Federal Medical Centre, Azare
· Specialist Hospital, Azare
· Bauchi Specialist Hospital, Bauchi
· General Hospital, Toro
· Niima Consultant Hospital, Bauchi
· General Hospital, Alkaleri
· General Hospital, Dass
· General Hospital, Gamawa
· General Hospital, Misau
· General Hospital, Ningi
· Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa
· General Hospital, Okolobiri
· Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi
· St Vincent Catholic Hospital, Aliade
· St. Monica’s Hospital, Adikpo
· Baki Clinic and Maternity Hospital, Gboko
· Home Based Centre, St John, Gboko
· St Mary Okpoga, 45, Nigeria Airforce Hospital, Makurdi
· Bishop Murray Medical Centre, High Level Street, Makurdi
· Nigerian Airforce Hospital, Nigerian Airforce Base, Makurdi
· General Hospital Katsina
· General Hospital, North bank, Makurdi
· General Hospital, Oju
· General Hospital, Otukpo
· Madonna Hospital, Makurdi
· NKST Hospital Mkar, Gboko
· University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri
Cross Rivers State
· General Hospital, Calabar
· Holy Trinity Hospital, Ikom
· Comprehensive Health Centre, Boje/Boki
· General Hospital, Akampa
· General Hospital, Ugep
· General Hospital, Obanliku
· General Hospital, Akpet Central
· Catholic Maternity Centre, Ogoja
· Catholic Maternity Hospital, Monaiya
· General Hospital, Ogoja
· General Hospital, Obudu
· University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar
· Sacred Heart Hospital, Obudu
· CHC, Okundi
· Holy Family Catholic Hospital, Ikom
· MCH Ogoja (PHC)
· PHC Abuochiechie
· Federal Medical Centre, Asaba
· Central Hospital, Warri
· Eku Baptist Hospital, Sapele via Eku
· Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki
· Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki
· Presbyterian joint Hospital, Uhuru
· Otiboh Okphae Specialist Hospital Irrua
· Central Hospital, Uromi
· Central Hospital, Upper Garage Road, Auchi
· St. Camilus, Uromi
· Central Hospital Sapele Rd. Benin City
· Faith Mediplex, Giwaamu, Opposite Church of God Mission, Airport Road, Benin
· Central Hospital, Benin
· Central Hospital, Ika South, Agbor.
· University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin
· Comprehensive Health Centre, Ovia South East, Udo
· Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo
· Irrua Specialist Teaching hospital, Esan
· Primary Health Centre, Ovia North East, Oluku, Edo State
· Federal Medical Centre, Iddo Ekiti
· University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu
· Anunciation Specialist Hospital, Emene
· 82 Div, Nigerian Army Hospital, Enugu
· Agbani District Hospital, Enugu
· Bishop Shanahan Hospital Nsukka
· Engu Ezike District Hospital
· NTASI Obi Catholic Hospital
· Federal Medical Centre, Gombe
· Zambuk General Hospital, Zambuk, Gombe
· Billiri General Hospital, Billiri
· Bolari Maternity
· Family Support Program Clinic
· General Hospital Deba
· General Hospital Duku
· General Hospital, Kumo
· General Hospital, Nafada
· Government Hospital, Billiri
· Herwagana Maternity
· Kumo General Hospital
· Malamsidi Maternity, Malamsidi
· Nassarawa Maternity, Gombe
· Pantami Maternity, Gombe
· State Specialist Hospital, Gombe
· Town Maternity, Gombe
· Tundun Wada Maternity, Gombe
· Urban Maternity, Gombe
· Federal Medical Centre, Owerri
· Centre to Right to Health, Imo
· Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kudu
· General Hospital, Dutse
· Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria
· St. Gerald’s Catholic Hospital, Kaduna
· Mothers Welfare Group (Old ABU Campus), Kaduna
· General Hospital, Kwoi
· General Hospital, Zango Kataf
· 44, Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna
· General Hospital, Saminaka
· Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital
· St. Louis Hospital Zonkwa, Kaduna
· General Hospital, Kafanchan
· National TB/Leprosy Teaching Hospital, Zaria
· Federal Medical Centre, Katsina
· General Hospital Funtua, Katsina
· Katsina General Hospital, Katsina
· Federal medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi
· Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Kebbi
· Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja
· General Hospital, Ankpa
· General Hospital, Okene
· Kogi State Diagnostic and Reference Hospital, Ayangba
· ECWA Hospital, Egbe
· University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin
· National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), 5, Edmund Crescent, Yaba, Lagos
· Creek Hospital, Lagos
· Federal Staff Hospital, 1004, Victoria Island
· Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja
· Massey Street Children Hospital, Lagos Island
· Lagos Mainland Hospital, Yaba
· Nigerian Navy Hospital, Ojo, Lagos
· General Hospital, Lagos
· Kuramo STD/HIV Clinic, Lagos
· Eko Hospital, Ikeja
· First Consultant Hospital, Lagos
· General Hospital, Ajeromi
· General Hospital, Badagry
· General Hospital, Ikorodu
· General Hospital, Marina
· General Hospital, Lagos Mainland
· General Hospital, Surulere, Lagos
· General Hospital, Isolo, Lagos
· 445 NAF Hospital, Ikeja
· General Hospital, Egbe
· General Hospital, Epe
· St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos
· Lagos Island Maternity Hospital
· Hope Worldwide International, Lagos
· Nigerian Police Hospital, Falomo
· Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba
· Prison Hospital, Kirikiri
· Lagoon Hospital, Lagos
· Innovative Biotec Limited, Keffi
· Araf Dalhatu Specialist Hospital, Lafia
· General Hospital, Maraba
· General Hospital, Mubi, Adamawa
· General Hospital Akwanga
· Lafia Specialist Hospital, Nassarawa
· Federal Medical Centre, Keffi
· ERCC Medical Services, Alushi, Nasarawa
Source : thebeehive
It does not happen often, but five living American presidents recently gathered in Dallas, Texas to dedicate George W. Bush presidential Library. Political and ideological differences notwithstanding, there was a resounding conclusion that George W. Bush policy on Africa was most effective and generous especially his endeavor to combat HIV/AIDS crisis and signing peace treaty in Sudan.
When most people do contemplate on which American president is the best and true friend of Africa. I bet you, Obama and Clinton will probably come to their mind; the last person they that might think of is George W. Bush, the 43rd president of America. People may find it hard to accept that a Republican Party president was the one that extended a helping hand to Africa at the darkest and heighten period of AIDS/HIV crisis. The recorded history was the testament to the uncommon generosity offered by George Bush who persuaded the US Congress to fund AIDS relief to combat African greatest health crisis.
At the apogee of AIDS epidemic in Sub-Sahara Africa, due to poverty and inadequate medical and health facilities to manage the AIDS crisis, millions of Africans were dying. Therefore it became imperative that the rising AIDS threat to the continent must be combated before it assumed an explosive dimension and reaches a point of no return. And that was when Bush came to the rescue and joined the fight to daunt the rising tide of AIDS crisis in the world.
In 2003, President George W. Bush lunched “President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).” A relief fund to fight HIV/AIDS around the world including Africa where AIDS have devastating and debilitating effects on the people. Bush urged United States Congress to committee $15 billion over five years (2003–2008) to fight and combat the deadly disease.
Again in 2005, former President George W. Bush lunched another program known as Malaria Initiative. A five year commitment of $1.2 billion was set aside to combat malaria disease in 15 African countries where malaria has done the greatest damage to lives and wellbeing.
According to UNICEF, “Malaria is the leading cause of mortality among children under the age of five in this West African nation Malaria still kills 660,000 people every year, most of them African children. Insecticide-treated bed nets are critical to eliminating deaths from malaria—one of the leading killers of children in the world says UNICEF on World Malaria Day. The number of bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa has increased to 145 million thanks to bulk buying, joint procurement, financing and extending manufacturing capacity. Since 2000, 1.1 million lives have been saved from malaria, and malaria mortality rates in Africa have declined by one-third.”
Bush made one of the greatest attempts to hold back AIDS crisis. He was pragmatic and generous, without giving a lip service to the emerging calamity in the continent. Bush was thorough a compassionate person, he did not intellectualize nor become philosophical, rather he quickly acted to save a generation of people that AIDS would have wasted and annihilated.
Former President Jimmy Carter acknowledged Bush favorable African policy. When it comes to helping the poor and needy around the world including Africa, Carter is not a stranger in that area. Carter is authentic and has the credentials on building houses, providing health care and relief assistances to the poor and needy. Carter’s words are trustworthy and bankable; at the dedication of George W. Bush Library, former President Carter paid a glowing tribute to George W. Bush for his effectiveness and compassionate role in Africa:
“In 2000, there was a disputed election for several weeks and finally when President Bush became president they had the inauguration in Washington on schedule. I think my wife and I were the only volunteer Democrats on the platform. ..
The worst problem now is the war going on between North and South Sudan, and millions of people have been killed and I would like for you to help us have a peace treaty there. In a weak moment, he said I'll do it. He said well, I haven't even chosen them yet, but give us three weeks. Three weeks later, I came up. President Bush kept his promise. He appointed John Danforth and a great general from Kenya. In January of 2005, there was a peace treaty between north and south Sudan that ended a war that had been going on for 20 years. George W. Bush is responsible for that.
That was the first of his great contributions to the countries in Africa. As has already been mentioned, he increased his assistance to Africa until the time he went into office to more than $90 billion. That's an increase of 640 percent. That is development assistance. He established a program. There was 6,000 people being treated for HIV. Two million when he left office. At this new institute he has a program called pick ribbon and red ribbon. That is something that is dear to my heart and I know means a lot to millions of people in Africa. I am filled with admiration for you and deep gratitude for you. Thank you very much. “
Former President Bill Clinton said “I want to thank President Bush for passing PEPFAR. No president of my party could have passed that through the Congress, I have personally seen the faces of some of the millions of people who are alive today because of it.”
As of July 2012, former President George W. Bush visited Zambia and Botswana with his wife, former first lady Laura Bush to promote health initiative on treatment and prevention of cervical and breast cancer.
Bob Geldof, the musician turned social activist of Live 8 Concerts have in the past lavish praises on George Bush for his decisiveness in Africa, his words: "I read it has been incompetent - but not in Africa. It has created bitterness - but not here in Africa. Here, his administration has saved millions of lives."
While Bono an activist, the front man of musical group U2, spoke about Bush contribution in combating AIDS: “It’s incredible; it’s incredible what George Bush’s— President Bush’s name is in the history books. His name is in the front foreword of a book that’s written on the end of AIDS.” In another occasion Bono said to a crowd, “I know that’s hard for you to accept but George kind of knocked it out of the park. I can tell you, and I’m actually here to tell you that America now has five million people being kept alive by these drugs. That’s something that everyone should know.”
Before George Bush intervention, many of his African counterparts were struggling on how to cope with the health crisis. Some African leaders were giving the best they can to combat the disease but lack of fund and health facilities made it nearly impossible to hold back the surging disease.
Poverty was and continues to be greatest barrier to fighting AIDS in Africa. Poverty translates into lack of information and education which are the cornerstones for winning the battle against the deadly disease and saving lives. Indifference among some African leaders played a detrimental role in the consequential explosion of AIDS. These leaders were busy mismanaging resources and siphoning money abroad, as their people were suffering and dying. And it took an outsider without a personal or strategic interest to intervene and saved lives in Africa.
It is important to remember this great dispensation of helping hand that he aided to turn the tide in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. No one is saying that the battle against the crisis has been won, but the emergency fund from Bush’s America was successful in laying the foundation for the war against the disease.
Former President George W. Bush was not obligated to offer a helping hand but he did it anyway. What we can acknowledge here was that he did something extraordinary without expecting anything in return. For this act of great compassion, Africa is grateful and without doubt George W. Bush was and continues to be a true friend of Africa. Thank You! Mr. President.
Emeka Chiakwelu, is Analyst and Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL.