South African Government Plans to Extend Existing Nutrition Programs to Support HIV-Positive Individuals
The South African government on Monday pledged to provide nutritious food to people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, BBC Monitoring/Sowetan reports. Officials said that the support system, which seeks to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by malnutrition in HIV-positive individuals, would be an extension of an existing nutrition program designed to improve the health of poor communities. "This program will be multi-pronged, using simple approaches such as establishing food gardens in communities in partnership with business, the department of agriculture and other role players," Dr. Nono Simelela, chief director for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for the Department of Health, said (BBC Monitoring/Sowetan, 1/7). The announcement follows a 13-day hunger strike by members of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS that called on South African government, businesses and pharmaceutical companies to support a number of measures to assist HIV-positive individuals, including a uniform social grant policy for unemployed and poor people living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). Under the current social grant policy, which is administered by the Department of Social Development, HIV-positive people may apply to receive a grant of about $74 a month. "Few people benefit from the grants because many of them die of hunger before the applications are approved and finalized," according to BBC News/Sowetan (BBC News/Sowetan, 1/7). According to SABCNews.com, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has agreed to meet with NAPWA advocates on Friday to discuss their demands (SABCnews.com, 1/6). Tshabalala-Msimang on Sunday asked the group to suspend their hunger strike, and on Monday she said that the advocates, many of whom were taken to the hospital with diarrhea, stomach cramps and opportunistic infections, must consider their own health as well as the health of those that they claimed to represent (SABCnews.com, 1/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.