HIV/AIDS patients and activists demonstrate for better treatment and more privacy in Mozambique, 2009

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Timing
Time Period:  
March
2009
to
August
2009
Location and Goals
Country: 
Mozambique
Location City/State/Province: 
Maputo
Goals: 
-Prevent the closing of hospitals that specialized in the care of HIV/AIDS patients

-Demand better treatment and more privacy for HIV/AIDS patients

 

Mozambique, long a Portuguese colony, acquired independence from Portugal in 1975 after ten years of war. Soon after gaining independence, the large Portuguese population of Mozambique left Mozambique, harming the economic situation in the process. To further worsen matters in Mozambique, the country became entrenched in a civil war just two years after the drawn-out conflict with Portugal. Like the conflict with Portugal, the civil war lasted for an extended period of time.

Mozambique officially converted to a democracy in 1994, and soon after repatriation began and the economy started to recover thanks in large part to foreign investors. During this period of transition and recovery, the country developed a serious AIDS problem, similar to that of other African nations. A dramatic spike in HIV-positive patients occurred between 2005 and 2009; Mozambican reports suggest that that there were just 6,000 HIV-positive patients receiving treatment in 2005, but that number soared to 140,000 patients in 2009. These patients were receiving anti-retroviral therapy, which aided in prolonging the lives of the patients.

As part of the Mozambican health care system, there existed twenty-three “Day Hospitals” that exclusively served HIV/AIDS patients. These “Day Hospitals” operated out of normal health facilities all across the country. Then, in March of 2008, Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido ordered the closure of all twenty-three facilities. Garrido justified his decision on two accounts; he referred to the "Day Hospitals” as focal points of discrimination towards HIV/AIDS patients and argued that he was not in support of a separate health service for the 140,000 patients suffering from HIV.

At this moment in time, 1.4 million residents, or 16% of the Mozambican population, were believed to be suffering from HIV. Consequently, the Health Minister’s decision sparked a lot of outrage from HIV/AIDS patients and advocates.

On March 26, 2009, hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients protested in front of the country’s largest hospital in Maputo. The patients expressed concern that they would lose much of their privacy if forced to attend regular health units; they feared further discrimination from the other patients at the health units.

Patients and advocates learned of some more distressing news in July of 2009 when the Health Minster announced that Mozambique would not be receiving funds from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Worried about issues of treatment and privacy, another action was organized on August 3, 2009. Once again, hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients and activists gathered in the capital city of Maputo to protest the closing of the “Day Hospitals.” This time, the protesters executed a march down Eduardo Mondlane Avenue in Maputo. As they marched, they sang and held placards before reaching the Health Ministry. Once the march ended at the Health Ministry, a letter was presented to Garrido. The Movement for Access to Anti-Retroviral Treatment in Mozambique (MAARTM) organized the march. At the end of the march, the coordinator of MAARTM read the letter aloud to the crowd. The following day, Garrido issued a response to the action, stating that his decision was “irreversible.” This point in time effectively marked the end of a largely unsuccessful campaign; no concessions were made from the government.

Research Notes
Sources: 
Agence France-Presse. "Mozambicans protest overhaul of HIV care" Agence France-Presse 3 August 2009

Agencia Informacao Mocambique. "AAGM: HIV/Aids Activists March to Health Ministry" Agencia Informacao Mocambique 3 August 2009

----. "AAGM: Closure of Day Hospitals 'Irreversible'" Agencia Informacao Mocambique 4 August 2009

Deutsche Press-Agentur. "Mozambique HIV patients protest, fearing loss of privacy" Deutsche Press-Agentur 26 March 2009

Additional Notes: 
Edited by Max Rennebohm (15/07/2011)
Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Julio Alicea 03/01/2011