Makete AIDS Coordinating Committee supports PIUMA efforts to re-open VCT clinic

At a recent meeting of the Makete District HIV-AIDS services coordinating committee, representatives of district NGOs recognized that PIUMA was the most effective local organization for delivering awareness and testing services.

From July until December of last year, PIUMA's Bulongwa-based Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCT) and its mobile outreach clinics to surrounding villages provided testing to more than 2,000 people.

Because of a change in PIUMA staff, the local District Medical Officer (DMO) revoked permission for the organization to continue with the VCT. This unacceptable situation has continued for more than five months.

The Coordinating Committee is calling on the DMO and the District Commissioner to give PIUMA permission to re-open its clinic immediately. PIUMA Clinical Officer Juma Nzige says that all demands of the DMO for clinic resources have been met. A further demand by the DMO to send staff for a month of specialized training has been characterized by a local health professional and HIV expert as "not reasonable".

"No one else is required to do this in the region or in the country," says this expert.

PIUMA supporters suspect this bureaucratic opposition by local officials is part of a sustained campaign to suppress PIUMA that has been going on since the organization publicly criticized local health and church officials for theft and corruption.

"Our people are dying," says PIUMA Executive Officer Taimu Sanga. "We are pleased that our local NGO partners have recognized that we are best at this and support us with the DMO."