Complex case of Catch-22

That thousands of HIV-Aids patients are starving outside KZN hospitals and clinics because a Health Department feeding programme has run out of cash is very distressing.

That thousands of HIV-Aids patients are starving outside KZN hospitals and clinics because a Health Department feeding programme has run out of cash is very distressing.

It seems barely humane or even cost-effective to administer the expensive "miracle" antiretroviral cocktails, as well as XDR or MDR TB medication, to patients unable to keep the medicine down.

But, as economic expert Bonke Dumisa points out, this venture was always going to fail given budget constraints. And, with its own priorities and limited purse, the national Treasury has not responded to appeals for more cash to keep the feeding programme alive.

The view that people cannot be allowed to become overly dependent on handouts such as food is equally valid.

Yet, those very people need the medicine to be well enough to fend for themselves.

This is just one more facet of the complex and tragic HIV -Aids pandemic. The private/corporate sector, like the government, also has limits to just how much money it can keep making available.

Yet it seems a worthy and humanitarian cause to dig into pockets once more so that these patients - throughout the country - can be fed.

And for the government to look into the cost of providing a cheap meal every time retrovirals are administered to ensure the drugs are effective.

X