Published: July 7, 2010
DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS NOT GETTING THE MEDICAL ATTENTION THAT THEY SHOULD BE GETTING?
Version en Espanol: http://www.aguabuena.org/articulos/regional20100710.php
(Please forward this letter to as many of your contacts as you can who may be interested in this issue)
7 July, 2010
Dear Friends around the Central American Region and allies in other parts of the world:
This letter is to introduce a new project that has just begun in the past few weeks. It is called the Central American Access Project and will focus on issues related to access to anti-retroviral medication for People Living with HIV/AIDS. The target countries for this project are Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTICIPANTS ARE THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE RECEIVING THIS LETTER, AND CAN HELP TO SUPPLY INFORMATION AND ORGANIZE EFFECTIVE ACTIONS FOCUSED ON THOSE WHO ARE STILL DYING FOR LACK OF ARV ACCESS. INFORMATION IS POWER.
It is important to note that with the benefits of additional financing from the Global Fund and other sources, that many Civil Society activists have found themselves overwhelmed by a variety of new tasks, some of which may inadvertently interfere with activism directed at treatment access. Many activists are now focused on the necessary and important, but time consuming process of developing applications for Round 10.
Much improvement has occurred in the area of ARV access in the past 10 years, and this improvement has been enhanced by the arrival of the Global Fund and PEPFAR, as well as other international funding sources. However, PAHO and UNAIDS continue to estimate that a significant percentage of PLWA still lack access to basic comprehensive medical care. According to PAHO as many as 40 percent of all PLWA in Central America are still not receiving ARV’s in a timely fashion. Many of them are still dying without ever having had access to anti-retroviral access. The project aims to identify where these problems are occurring and what some of the solutions may be. DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS NOT GETTING THE MEDICAL ATTENTION THAT THEY SHOULD BE GETTING? THEN PLEASE TELL US ABOUT IT. OR RECONSIDER AVAILABLE STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT THIS PERSON THROUGH YOUR OWN NETWORKS AND CONTACTS
The key informants will be Civil Society activists, PLWA, members of Networks such as ITPC, REDCA, other local networks, as well as their allies who can provide specific information about the gaps that are occurring in access in various parts of the region. Input from networks as well as ALL committed individuals will be important.
Some of the key areas that we have identified include but are not limited to;
Lack of access to comprehensive care and treatment in rural areas
Lack of availability in some areas of medications for opportunistic infections.
Even more difficulty in obtaining appropriate and timely resistance testing
Larger numbers of pregnant women who do not receive adequate prevention of vertical transmission
Dangerous treatment interruptions due to a variety of reasons
Lack of availability in our target countries of newer and better anti-retrovirals, some of them considered to be “third line” which are essential when resistance develops to 2nd line medications.
Pricing problems that affect almost all commodities including ARV’s as well as reactives. Some of the newer medications are simply priced out of reach
Countries, (National AIDS programs or other key treatment suppliers) who are not buying products at best available prices
Problems of access for vulnerable populations including but not limited to g/l/b/t populations, those who live in extreme poverty, woman and children
Lack of appropriate pediatric formulations in the case of some key medications
Sustainability of treatment guaranteed by governments as more and more people are placed on life saving medications.
Lack of early availability of voluntary testing and counseling
Lack of trained medical personnel in some rural areas and clinics.
Lack of timely availability of Viral Load, and CD4 testing.
These are just some of the problems that affect comprehensive care and treatment and we know that there are many others as well. Still, it is not always easy to know where and when these problems are occurring and this is where your own input can be extremely important. Even reliable information supplied to us confidentially can be of use in terms of our ability to analyze problems and seek possible solutions. Worst of all is “ lethal silence” about problems that are occurring that affect the lives of our target populations. SILENCE IS EQUAL TO DEATH.
THE LIFE OF ONE SINGLE PERSON WHO IS NOT ACCESSING THEIR TREATMENT IN PETEN OR TEGUCIGALPA OR SAN JOSE HAS NO LESS VALUE THAN A GLOBAL FUND PROJECT.
We are aware that much good work takes place on a national level in relation to the above issues, and we do not wish to repeat actions that are already being carried out. But if current statistics related to lack of ARV coverage, as well as AIDS mortality are correct, THERE IS STILL MUCH MORE TO BE DONE
If you have questions about the project, information to provide, or are seeking information and support in relation to any situation in your own country , we urge you to get in touch with our team by e-mail or by telephone, and we will make a sincere effort to respond to your concerns.
Central American Access Project
San Jose, Costa Rica