IRIN/PlusNews on Monday examined efforts to increase access to safe drinking water among HIV-positive people living in Sudan. According to IRIN/PlusNews, people living with HIV are especially vulnerable to diseases that can be spread through unsafe drinking water because of their weakened immune systems. Although conflict in Sudan officially ended in 2005, government officials in the south of the country have said that they do not have the resources necessary to rebuild the region and deliver services, such as safe water.
Since the end of the conflict, water treatment tablets have become available in some stores, and HIV-positive people who can afford the tablets protect themselves from cholera and other diarrheal diseases common in the region, IRIN/PlusNews reports. PSI this year, with funding from CDC, began including water treatment tablets, called Water Guard, in care packets the group distributes to HIV-positive people every three months. The packets include 90 Water Guard tablets, each of which treats 25 liters of water. The packets also contain cans with taps on the bottom, water containers, condoms, two insecticide-treated nets, and educational materials about malaria and HIV.
According to IRIN/PlusNews, the decision to include Water Guard in the packets in part was a response to pressure from HIV-positive people in the region. "It's a major concern for us: we feel that they must have access to clean water," Angok Kueol, executive director of the Southern Sudan AIDS Commission, said, adding that if HIV-positive people "don't have safe water, they are always prone to infections, such as watery diarrhea." Erin Stuckey, HIV/AIDS technical adviser to PSI in southern Sudan, said that the care-packet program will be expanded to other parts of the region in the future. In addition, other organization, such as UNICEF and Solidarites, are making efforts to raise awareness about hygiene and sanitation (IRIN/PlusNews, 5/12).
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