Monday, April 24, 2006

ARVs or Ubejane: silence from the government and dilemma for patients!

The effects of the HIV/Aids pandemic are so devastating that institutions, countries and people have to reconsider their behavior. On the last development, Vatican announces that the Catholic Church is about to publish a statement reconsidering its view on condom use http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060423/ts_nm/pope_condoms_dc_1 .

Back to South Africa, the HIV-Aids debate over the past few weeks is mostly dominated by Zuma’s statement on his post sex shower for reducing risks of HIV infection and the microbicide conference in Durban.

The silence from the ministry of Health on Zuma’s declaration has surprised both local and international communities, throwing a mixed sentiment of confusion and interrogations in the public.

Over that realm, masses are subject to a very difficult test of choosing between a proven cure of ARVs and a non-toxic mixture of herbs (ubejane).

Bringing the debate on the media, guests of SABC3 Nikiwe had two contradicting views on interface last Sunday:

  • ARVs is not accessible to the majority of South Africans, let’s try the last no-toxic recipe from traditional medicine;
  • Proven cure can’t just be replaced by alternative solution that has not yet been tested to provide same or better results.

Besides the proven non-toxicity of Ubajane, advocates of the first viewpoint back their arguments with some cases of people feeling better. Leaving that aside, they also raise the old debate of western versus African medicine. Their argument: given that the majority of South African consults traditional healers who are now providing a cheaper but efficient solution, why don’t we delve into such an alternative?

I love Africa and home-based solutions, but I think this is too risky. Ubajane’s prescriber says he has no proof that his medication is efficient when associated with ARVs, patients have to choose between the two.

Proving non-toxicity or ability to increase appetite is not enough, information from the Medical University of South Africa says Ubajane does not heal HIV/Aids . However, this is a room for further researches such as the possibility of association of traditional medicine with other western solutions.

This is exactly what a government is supposed to do. Seemingly, the SA health department decides to keep quite. The official from the Department of Health decided to decline the invitation at interface last Sunday on SABC.

On the other hand, western medicine is not left behind. The microbicide
conference in Cape Town is going to expose on advancements made to reduce risks of contamination from HIV/aids.

As a result, despite major achievements that both western and traditional medicine can provide, the HIV/Aids situation in South Africa is likely to get worse as the government decides to entertain confusion!

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