Cause of death: denial of treatment
4 September 1998 (AFAPAC)
AMSTERDAM, 4 September 1998 (AFAPAC)
"History will judge the rich world for not saving lives"
AMSTERDAM, 4 September 1998 (AFAPAC) — The12th World AIDS Conference in Geneva was a platform where most countries pledged to bridge the gap between the "haves" and the "have-notes." According to the world’s statistics on AIDS, about 90% of the people in the world having AIDS have no access to treatment. Politicians, HIV/AIDS activists and biomedical institutions all concluded that something should be done about this. History will judge the rich world for not saving lives. The preparedness of governments to help bridge this gap became evident during the sessions.
Back in the Netherlands, the annual Walk for Life was also centred around this theme: Bridging the Gap. Thanks to the Dutch AIDS Fund, the money raised was to support the African Foundation for AIDS Prevention and Counselling (AFAPAC) and the Kenyan AIDS Association (WOFAK). This was a delightful step.
However, within the Dutch care system, illegal Africans with AIDS are being left to die. There is no clear policy over the care of people with AIDS who do not have stay permits.
African woman dies after being denied treatment
Hospitals prescribe the required therapy to African patients and send them away to go and die, knowing that they cannot afford to buy the medicines. There has been a case where a patient was tossed between two hospitals because one hospital did not want to treat a patient who had already been to another hospital. This young lady of 35 years of age died in a care center.
AFAPAC has contacts with illegal AIDS patients who do not have access to treatment because they do not have money. There is a conscious delay or refusal of treatment due to the patients’ inability to pay for the treatment. There are people dying gradually because of lack of money to buy the required medication.
According to some AIDS experts in the Netherlands, the cost of treating and AIDS patient per year is about 24000 guilders (about US$12000) and because of this, the Dutch government is not prepared to treat people who are illegals and having AIDS. The government is afraid that the Netherlands will be flooded up with AIDS patients if they give illegal patients access to treatment.
The situation is to us — African community health workers in the Netherlands — unacceptable. How can people be made to die when they could be made to live? What does this situation mean to African countries who believe that the rich countries are prepared to bridge the gap, while African people are dying at the door steps of a country such as the Netherlands?
Do the care centres in the Netherlands not see saving life as a moral obligation? These are some of the few questions which could be raised in assessing the so-called readiness of the developed countries in trying to bridge the gap between the North and the South.
People of sub-Sahara Africa are still being discriminated against. In the Netherlands, people of sub-Saharan origin and their spouses are not allowed to donate blood because they are likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS.
From a Statement by the AFAPAC Management Committee
African Foundation for AIDS Prevention and Counselling
1100 AJ AM STERDAM
Phone: +31 20 697 1942
Fax: +31 20 600 62 69