Monday, August 27, 2007

P.N.G. AIDS VICTIMS 'BURIED ALIVE' !

Some people with HIV/Aids in Papua New Guinea are being buried alive by their relatives, a health worker says. Margaret Marabe said families were taking the extreme action because they could no longer look after sufferers or feared catching the disease themselves. Ms Marabe said she saw the "live burials" with her own eyes during a five-month trip to PNG's remote Southern Highlands.

PNG is in the grip of an HIV/Aids epidemic - the worst in the region. An estimated 2% of the six million population are believed to be infected, and HIV diagnoses rise by around 30% each year.
International health agencies have warned action must be taken to prevent hundreds of thousands of people becoming infected.

Margaret Marabe, a known local activist in PNG, carried out an awareness campaign in the Tari area of the Southern Highlands earlier this year. "I saw three people with my own eyes. When they got very sick and people could not look after them, they buried them," she told reporters. She described how one person called out "mama, mama" as the soil was being shovelled over their head. Villagers told her that such action was common, she said.

Ms Marabe, who works for the Igat Hope organisation in the capital, Port Moresby, said people in remote parts of the country remained ignorant about HIV/Aids and urged the government to take action. "There are no voluntary counselling training centres in Tari. There are also no training programmes on HIV," she was quoted by PNG's Post-Courier newspaper as saying. PNG's Secretary for Health Dr Nicholas Mann admitted to the BBC in an interview last year that the multitude of cultures and languages in the country made it difficult to get the HIV/Aids message across.

But he said Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had brought the issue under his remit, and the government was working with agencies on a co-ordinated approach to tackling the crisis.
BBC NEWS REPORT.

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