MIL-OSI NGOs: A lack of food adds to challenges for people living with HIV and TB in South Sudan

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Source: Médecins Sans Frontières –

Vulnerable groups must not be forgotten

“Food insecurity is becoming a problem,” says Daniel Mekonen, MSF’s medical team leader in Leer. “We have a cohort of more than 600 patients co-infected with tuberculosis and HIV, and many of them tell us that they can no longer follow the treatment properly because of the lack of food.”

“They either reduce it or stop it until the situation improves. This is not without consequences,” says Mekonen. “We are receiving more patients at an advanced stage of disease, in a serious condition, makes it very difficult to treat, and others are developing resistance to antimicrobials.”

“We used to see eight new patients a month, but recently that figure has doubled,” continues Mekonen. “We see that the number of people who stop taking treatment is increasing. If people are not supported with food, our programme will not succeed. On a national level, MSF is deeply concerned about the ongoing prevalence of HIV and TB in South Sudan.”

MSF started working in Leer, Unity, in 1989, and remains one of the few organisations providing medical care to the people in the area. While malnutrition is rising, there is insufficient food distribution in communities, with no criteria for priority groups. Other organisations and agencies providing food support and assistance should scale up and consider how to specifically target and prioritise groups such as people living with HIV and/or TB.