Death: A Mocking Foe in the Fight against HIV/AIDS
Officials of one such organization told me that after spending a lot of time in taking care of the terminally ill and hoping for the better, death comes and prove their efforts worthless.
The CBO has been one of those institutions in
The death of a 42-year-old
He died on July 13, ten days after he was shown to this reporter on July 3 as a typical example of how people were achieving a clean bill of health after getting assistance from CBOs.
When poor health started weighing down Phiri like is the case with close to 300, 000 terminally ill Malawians, he was very despondent. He thought he and his family were doomed.
Phiri left a wife, five children and a niece who is also nursing a child of her own. The entire seven family members were looking up to him, not only for support, but for their day-to-day survival as well.
His employers were also reluctant to give him a hand in his time of need; they were not ready to keep wasting resources on a person who was not only HIV positive but believed to be terminally sick from AIDS.
Phiri thought that all was lost, eagerly awaited the day that he will cease to exist, and joined the deceased, but a Community Based Organisation (CBO), operating within the township appeared like a bolt from the blues.
The CBO, rightly called ‘Chisamaliro’ a Malawian Chichewa language word literally meaning ‘care’ brought real care to Phiri.
This care is extended to 58 others also facing the same plight in the area.
With a K1.2 million funding from Plan Malawi channelled to the CBO through the Mzuzu City Assembly, there is now a glimmer of hope for those that had been suffering despondence due to lack of care.
At the time this reporter visited him a few days before his death, Phiri’s face told it all; the organisation was carrying out its care giving services to those that badly needed it.
The care raised Phiri from hopelessness to hope.
“These people have really been supportive to me. They are always around and they continue to pamper me with stuffs that support me very much,” he had said.
Phiri also said the CBO gave him drugs, soap, disinfectants, towels and supplementary food stuffs to mention but a few.
“What had been my major concern was how my family would now survive since I am the sole bread winner for the family which still comes to me here on my sick bed to seek assistance,” said Phiri who was still employed as a driver at Wukani Private School in the Mzuzu City at the time of interview.
“But after we had gone to the management and reasoned with them they conceded and they have now started giving him half of his salary for a third month running now,” he said.
The CBO, which is also looking after over 200 orphans and vulnerable children, has ten of volunteers who look after an average of seven sick people each.
This reporter caught up with four of the volunteers at their shabbily looking office in the city and narrated how they are still going on with little resources and no incentives.
“What we actually do is to find out how they are doing that morning and monitor their adherence to ARVs,” she said.
“Her place is my every day first destination. First thing to do when I am there is to set the fire and boil some water for her bath before preparing her food and making sure that she has taken her drugs,” says Chirwa without any trace of ennui.
She says she washes her clothes, changes her beddings and all this is done after bathing her.
“Usually I am faced with a situation where we have no gloves and I improvise by using plastic papers that I use when bathing her,” she says.
The Chairperson for the CBO Genuine Kaunda said it is worrisome that the organisation, which had its humble beginning in 2003 looking after 12 sick people in its operation area, has now 58 sick people.
“It is worrisome that the number keeps increasing everyday and the fear is that our capacity will soon be compromised,” concurred
He said these have eased their mobility, as well as one bicycle ambulance, which becomes handy when one of the people they are looking after need the attention of the hospital.
The service offered by the CBO are numerous as they also look in the areas of psycho-social care which deals with issues of giving hope to those with no traces of any.
Through its self-generated funds, the CBO is also giving out nutritional supplements but has its own limitations and
The beneficiaries of the CBOs seem to understand that despite the assistance from the CBO it has its own constraints.
“These people have their limitations but I am currently satisfied with the assistance they are rendering me at the moment,”
If it were not for problems to do with health where Phiri has breathing problems, suffer from swelling legs, sometimes feeling pneumonic, the hopelessness that engulfed him before the organisation had been replaced with hope.
Unfortunately, the care he got from institution meant nothing, when the very life he was trying to battle for, slipped away on the fateful
For once death laughed off the efforts of the organisation now weary of how many battles it will have to lose to sacrifice the triumph of the war.
Director of the Mzuzu Referral Hospital Rain Bow HIV AIDS Project Tom Phalula said what is happening in a lot of bodies of the people suffering from AIDS is lack of continued performance of the antiretroviral drugs due to a number of factors.
“If those on the drugs are not following strict dosage adherence they may lose it as opportunistic diseases take control and whatever the case the patients do not survive,” he said.
However, wife to the late Phiri,
Phalula, however, said it is sometimes common that drugs that one is continuously taking start becoming less and less effective as the body becomes used to them.
He said when a person has just started taking antiretroviral drugs, their immune system improves and they regain their health.
“The more the drugs start losing its effectiveness the body’s immune system dwindles rapidly and soon a person dies,” he said.
He said this explains why people will start showing all signs of recovery, only to lose the battle when everybody was thinking that everything is in control.
“This is why it is important to continue monitoring the people who are on
Wife to late Phiri says the family is now disparate and unsure of what becomes of them.
“The problem is that I am not an educated person and therefore my survival was merely based on my marriage to my husband; now no organization will help my children until I am dead as well and no institution can give a loan to uneducated widow,” lamented Dorothy Phiri.
She however said currently they are getting handouts from family members and feared that they might stop assisting them since they cannot do it forever.
“I hope God is going to show me the way,” she said resignedly.
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