A Lesotho HIV/AIDS clinic financially supported by many people in Guelph has been closed by the country's Ministry of Health. A Canadian group, OHAfrica, began operating the Tsepong clinic in 2004 and gave control to the Lesotho government in 2010.
According to Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik, founder of Bracelet of Hope, the local charity that raised money for the clinic, "Now those dealing with HIV/AIDS, over 20,000 people, will have to receive minimal care at the outpatient department at the Montebong Hospital. There is only one doctor."
Bracelet of Hope has changed its focus from fundraising for the clinic to fundraising to set up programs to help those living with AIDS and children orphaned by the disease. Anne Gardiner, its executive director, said Lesotho relies on international aid but since the global recession of 2008, many countries have not contributed.
Gardiner worries that merging AIDS treatment with a regular outpatient clinic will rekindle stigma and pose a barrier to treatment. "The real worry is that they won't come for treatment anymore," she said. "We're also worried the quality of care will decline under the new format." Two more doctors with expertise in AIDS are expected to join the hospital, but Gardiner said a better solution is for all physicians to have some AIDS training.
Bracelet of Hope now plans to open a wellness center clinic at Tsepong. The charity hopes to raise $550,000 (US $539,000) in the 2012-13 fiscal year to support the wellness clinic, two new foster homes, 10 income-generating activities, and three microfinance loans.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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