food crisis hits tb and aids patients

HUNGRY: A doctor examines an HIV-Aids patient at a clinic. Pic: JAMES OATWAY. 123/08/2009. © Sunday Times.
HUNGRY: A doctor examines an HIV-Aids patient at a clinic. Pic: JAMES OATWAY. 123/08/2009. © Sunday Times.

THOUSANDS of poverty-stricken pati

ents on TB and HIV-Aids medication are again hungry because KwaZulu-Natal's health department does not have funds to feed the poor.

The food programme has been in a crisis since its inception in 2006. Officials have offered to feed the poor despite having no budget for it.

Over the past 12 months the rollout was stopped six times because of lack of finance.

It is estimated that the rollout of nutritional porridge Leaf Meal costs the department about R100 million a year.

More than 100 000 HIV-positive and TB sufferers, including children, benefit from the porridge distributed at clinics, hospitals and other outlets in the province.

The scheme assists in improving the treatment outcomes for those taking HIV and TB medication.

The food helps boost the immune system.

eThekwini and Umgungundlovu regions are heavily affected in the latest crisis.

The eThekwini region caters for more than 37 000 patients.

Each patent is entitled to 4kg a month which means one meal a day.

But clinics end up giving about 1kg a month.

Both regions had a high number and they are serviced by the Dawn Feeds Company and Bantu Batho Management Services.

Elizabeth Mkhize of an NGO Home Base Care unit in Mayville said they were facing a huge challenge.

"People on HIV, TB and chronic medication were helped by this scheme," Mkhize said.

"My husband has a vegetable garden so we have been helping to cook soup for the people.

" We are also seeking help from local businesses and other parties."

A patient enrolled in the programme in St Mary's Hospital told Sowetan that people queue outside the clinic on a daily basis.

"But they told us that they can do nothing because the supplies have not been delivered."

Service provider Dawn Schneebeger of Dawn Feeds admitted that they had not delivered porridge to the clinics and hospitals.

She said the last order placed by the department was in February.

At the time of going to press the department of health had not commented.