APARA’s mission is to reach to the people infected and affected by AIDS as well as those that are suffering in our societies. Our goal is to educate, create economic empowerment programs and vocational training for AIDs orphans and other distressed children in the society so that they be self reliant and independent. We strive to offer practical and effective relief services to the distressed and underprivileged, without regard to religion, nationality, race, or gender. Our services include education, medical, social, and economic development and short term financial aid. We also undertake to provide adequate medications and advocacy programs to people suffering from AIDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and those affected by natural disasters. In addition to these direct services, APARA works with other religious and secular organizations to carry out its mission. It is our belief that working together, we can change the world, one life at a time.
AIDs in Africa
Africa continues to be the most affected continent by HIV/AIDS. The continent accounts for over 70% of HIV/AIDS infections in the world with around 23 million people infected with the virus. Although the reported number of new infection was highest during the 1990s, the disease continues to be a big challenge to the development of many African nations. From country to country, the epidemic varies across the continent, with the estimates of prevalence ranging from 0.1% in Madagascar and as high as 15% in some countries in the south of Africa. Death resulting from the disease has been on the decline with the introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and PMTCT coverage increase. The impact of the disease on the continent varies from country to country, depending on the size and duration since the first reported case. In most countries, there is a generalized epidemic, where we have in some countries the adult prevalence exceeding 20% in various countries. For example, according to Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); the adult prevalence in Botswana is 24.8%, Lesotho (23.6 percent), and Swaziland (25.9 percent). Other countries have concentrated epidemics, with the disease affecting various hotspots. For example, the prevalence in Burundi is 38% among the sex workers, which is 16 times more than the prevalence among the adult population. The general prevalence in West Africa is low compared to that in East and Southern Africa, although the epidemic among the MARPs (Most at risk population) is common(UNDP, 2010).
Factors driving AIDS/HIV in Africa
According to the UNAIDS report, AIDS in Africa: Three Scenarios to 2025, there are five significant though uncertain forces that drive the spread of AIDS in Africa. Each of these forces has their own impacts and operates at many different levels. In addition, each of these factors interacts and creates complex dynamics. Consideration of the five factors and how they interact provides a very strong analytical tool that can be used to examine the past and present of the epidemic and, therefore, offer a plausible future development strategy for combating the epidemic. The five factors that drive AIDS/HIV in Africa can be summarized as follows (UNAIDS, 2011).
Unity and integration: growth and erosion
This factor concerns with the extent to which people, groups, and countries consider themselves connected. Integration and unity is the foundation of peaceful societies that helps in facilitating and implementing policies and programs aimed at combating the spread and effect of AIDS. Where unity and integration is eroding, there will be difficulties in successful implementation of crucial policies. Issues of ethnicity, religious tension, and violence can greatly hamper efforts made and therefore it is important to create a sense of oneness in the society (UNAIDS, 2011).
Development of beliefs, ideals, and meanings
Secular, traditional, and religious beliefs affect how people view AIDS/HIV. Beliefs about personal identity, sexuality, and morality will also form a basis on how people are going to relate with the infected and affected. The ideals and interpretation (meanings) of AIDS to different people will be seen in the framework of transgression, stigma, and punishment, or of opportunity and risk. Religious and cultural leaders have proven to be instrumental in influencing how AIDS and HIV are viewed in the communities.
Resources and capabilities: how they are leveraged
Struggle against AIDS and HIV is mostly seen from the view of funding. While funding is important the focus should also include leveraging, what is available to attain more progress in fighting the epidemic- this is more so in situations when the resources are limited. The resources in this instance will include money institutions, systems, experience, and leadership. The manner funds are allocated to various programs will determine the success rate of curbing the epidemic (UNAIDS, 2011).
Knowledge and its application
Existing and new knowledge must be incorporated in research and teaching people about AIDS and HIV. This is important and the greatest impact of this has been noticed on two aspects, which include biomedical knowledge; this is understanding of the sexual behavior; and knowledge of the effect on people living with the virus and those that live and care for them. Development and incorporation of traditional and modern view is crucial as a strategy of fighting the epidemic (UNAIDS, 2011).
Power and authority distribution
This factor focuses on how power and authority in the societies is distributed. It looks at also, at how the power and authority interact. The way power and authority is distributed will affect the way people understand about the epidemic. In most African societies the woman is expected t be submissive and the man the dominant person in a relationship. If this is not changed, women will continue to be the most affected people in Africa by AIDS (UNAIDS, 2011).
Effect of HIV/AIDs on the nation, infected and affected in Africa
In Africa, it is said that if you are not infected with the HIV virus then you are in a way affected by it. One of the most affected people by the epidemic is the orphans. The children are mostly left to fend for themselves, because few countries in the continent have programs that cater for these children. The problems that face the continent in fighting the epidemic can be summarized as:
- Lack of adequate healthcare facilities, antiretroviral treatment, and support for the growing number of illnesses reported that are related to HIV.
- Hansling the impact has had on the population in terms of increasing the number of orphans, living standards and development of communities.
- Decreasing the number of new infections and helping the infected to be self-reliant (USAID, 2011).
The effect that HIV and AIDS has had on the population of many African countries include:
- Lowering the life expectancy. HIV and AIDS have eroded much of the efforts geared at increasing the life expectancy in most countries. The average life expectancy in most African countries is 52 years and in the heavily affected countries, the life expectancy is less than 51 (UNDP, 2010).the life expectancy in many countries has been reducing over the years and this has been blamed on the increase on or prevalence of AIDS.
- Effect on the household. When an incomer earner dies, the family will mostly be left penniless and this accounts for the many street children and families in many African countries. Sometimes people are forced to cater for their sick siblings. This reduces their earnings and when the infected individuals die, they leave the burden of their children to their families, which are already facing problems of their own.
- The epidemic is hindering healthcare deliverance in many countries. Hospitals are filling up with AIDS patients and many of the infected people cannot access medication or treatment.
- HIV and AIDS have really affected the productivity of many African countries. This has also posed a threat to the growth and development of the countries as the workforce reduces. Many of the people living with HIV in Africa are between 15 and 49 years- a time that there are in their most resourceful age (USAID, 2011).
HIV prevention Measures in Africa
Most African countries are undertaking measures and programs to help in curbing the spread of HIV and AIDS. Strategies include using the political and community leadership to fight the spread of the disease. For example, Senegal has been successful in using the political elites as well as community leaders to educate the population about AIDS and HIV (UNAIDS, 1999). Senegal currently has one of the lowest prevalence in Africa. Other countries that have been successful in reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the continent include Kenya, Uganda, and Burkina Faso (UNAIDS, 2009).
Another strategy used includes the use of condoms. Government in Africa are advocating for use of condoms as a measure of preventing spread of the virus. Research carried out between 2001 and 2005 showed that eight out of eleven countries in Africa reported a gradual increase in use of condoms (UNAIDS, 2006).
Other methods applied in the region include VCT (Voluntary counseling and Testing) and PMCT. It is reported that close to 300,000 in the region were infected with the virus in 2009 (UNAIDS, 2010). Most of these infections occurred during pregnancy, during birth or while breastfeeding. This has made it important for people to visit the VCTs and know their HIV status and if infected take the necessary measures to reduce the risk of the unborn baby being infected (UNAIDS, 2006).
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that is airborne. The disease affects mostly people living in third world countries. 90% of all reported cases in the world are found in third world countries. The most vulnerable people to suffer from Tuberculosis are people with HIV/ AIDS. Research has shown that an HIV positive person is 20 to 37 times more likely to suffer from Tuberculosis than a HIV negative person is. Poor technology and health facilities have been blamed for hindering efforts made to curb the spread of the disease. In addition, slow and sometimes erratic response s to the disease has increased the challenge, because new strains of the disease are cropping out and they are resistant to the drugs that are available currently.
For a disease that was eradicated in the United States in 1949, malaria is one of the leading killer diseases in Africa. For many people in this region a simple bite from the mosquito can have fatal consequences. Malaria is cited to kill approximately 781,000 people annually. The most affected people include children, pregnant women, and infants in Africa. The effect of the disease has been cited to cost the continent an estimated $12 billion annually, because of the lost trade, productivity, and tourism.
Although HIV and AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis are preventable diseases, they have a very devastating impact on many poor countries especially in Africa. The sub- Saharan Africa accounts for over 90% of all malaria deaths, close to one-third of all reported TB cases and two thirds of all people infected with the HIV virus. The impact the three diseases has had on the continent is undeniable, the social and economic effect they had had on the region is huge and calls for action to be taken. For example HIV and AIDS threatens to wipe a whole generation when they are still in their productive years. These diseases are also cause loss of workforce and breadwinners.
Various programs and strategies have been adopted by the governments of these countries to fight the diseases. Some of these strategies have proven to be affordable, effective and are helping save millions of lives every year. One such example is the partnership governments have had with various non-governmental agencies and other government in educating their population about the diseases. Another thing that has been helpful is establishment of various programs such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR, which have helped to reduce the cost of medication. HIV diagnosis is currently no longer a death sentence in many third world countries. According to a report, in 2010, over five million people were receiving antiretroviral drugs compared to less than 50,000 in 2002. Tuberculosis treatment has also helped reduce the number of deaths in many third world countries. Between 1995 and 1998, over 36 million cases of Tuberculosis were treated. Effort is being made to prevent the spread of these 3 disease. The Global Fund alone has given out over 230 million bed nets to families and over 1.3 million pregnant women have been given HIV medicine to prevent mother to child transmission of the virus this is up from just 150000 mothers who received the treatment in 2004.
According to WHO (World Health Organization) the facts about malaria can be summarized as follows:
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
- In 2009, malaria caused an estimated 781 000 deaths, mostly among African children.
- Malaria is preventable and curable.
- Increased malaria prevention and control measures are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places.
- Malaria can decrease gross domestic product by as much as 1.3% in countries with high disease rates.
- Non-immune travelers from malaria-free areas are very vulnerable to the disease when they are infected (WHO, 2011)
The facts about Tuberculosis according to the 2011 fact sheet by WHO states that:
- More than 2 billion people, equal to one-third of the world’s population, are infected with TB bacilli, the microbes that cause TB. 1 in 10 people infected with TB bacilli will become sick with active TB in their lifetime
- TB is a leading killer of people with HIV. People who are HIV-positive and infected with TB are 20 to 40 times more likely to develop active TB than people not infected with HIV living in the same country
- THE TB TARGETS FOR 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals: to have halted and begun to reverse incidence Current assessment On target in all WHO regions though incidence is falling slowly
- 1.8 million people died from TB in 2008, including 500 000 people with HIV – equal to 4500 deaths a day TB is a disease of poverty affecting mostly young adults in their most productive years. (WHO, 2011)
- The vast majority of TB deaths are in the developing world, and more than half of all deaths occur in Asia
- The estimated global incidence rate fell to 139 cases per 100 000 population in 2008 after peaking in 2004 at 143 cases per 100 000. Rates are falling very slowly in 5 WHO regions (the rate is stabilizing in Europe). The total number of deaths and cases is still rising due to population growth.
- TB is contagious and spreads through the air. If not treated, each person with active TB infects on average10 to 15 people every year.
- There were 5.7 million TB case notifications in 2008. 36 million people were cured in DOTS (WHO, 2011).
Things needed to make a difference in the lives of people infected and Affected with AIDS and HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis:
In diseases control, prevention is always better than cure. Efforts should be made by government and non-governmental organizations to teach people on the various ways to prevent getting them. Funding of projects is another crucial thing that is needed in Africa if the continent is going to curb spreads of the three diseases. The Global Fund has and still is a significant partner for the continent in curbing the spread of the diseases. From 2001 to 2008 the Global fund had granted over USD $ 7.2 billion to countries to help fight malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.
To fight the scourge, African countries should develop its infrastructure. In order to implement successfully programs aimed at fighting the diseases, African countries must focus on the health, communication, and education sectors as the foundation. There should be increased international funding to help fund these projects.
To help the infected and affected, communities should be educated about the disease especially AIDS. This can be important, because many of the infected and affected are alienated from the society. Social reforms should take place in many African countries where orphans and the infected people are taken care by the government.
Non-organizational organizations should also contribute in fighting the diseases. One way they can help is by setting up programs that teach the affected and infected people skills that they can use to be self-reliant.
UNAIDS. (2006). Report on the global AIDS epidemic’ Chapter 3: Progress in Countries. Web.
UNAIDS. (2009). Report on the global AIDS epidemic. Web.
UNAIDS. (2011).AIDS in Africa: Three scenarios to 2025. Web.
UNDP. (2010) Human Development Report. Web.
USAID. 2011 Country Health Profile for Sub-Saharan Africa. Web.
WHO. (2011). Malaria facts. Web.
WHO. (2011). tuberclosis facts. Web.