AIDS NGOs send report to UN

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-12 0:33:01

Four NGOs in China have jointly submitted a report to the United Nations detailing the plight of AIDS patients in Henan Province.

The report submitted to a United Nations commission on March 4, focuses on how the government's policy known as the "Four Frees and One Care," which is designed to support AIDS patients, has been carried out in Henan.

"We found that many people living with AIDS receive insufficient allowances from the local government and their right to seek redress for unjust treatment in court is often deprived," Li Xige, founder of the home for women with AIDS in Ningling county, Henan, one of the NGOs that drafted the report, told the Global Times.

The "Four Frees and One Care" policy, which took effect in 2003, offers free antiviral drugs, free HIV testing, free prenatal assistance and maternity services, and free education for children living with  HIV/AIDS.

The policy also requires local governments to provide additional support allowances.

"The policy is intended to help people but it has been poorly implemented at the grassroots level," said Li.

Li said that one of the free antiviral drugs provided to patients, Lamivudine, made by the Anhui Biochem United Pharmaceutical, causes more severe side effects and is less effective than the same drug that is produced by a foreign company which the government stopped providing.

"The patients' immunity has deteriorated and the local government is reluctant to change the drug because it was designated by the Ministry of Health," said Li.

The Anhui Biochem United Pharmaceutical company declined to answer questions from the Global Times.

By the end of 2011, there were more than 780,000 people living with AIDS/HIV in China.

The majority of people who are living with HIV/AIDS are residents of the provinces of Henan, Anhui, Hubei and Shanxi, according to a report released by the Ministry of Health.

"The 'Four Frees and One Care' policy is only able to cover the most basic medicine for AIDS patients. By offering free drugs to every patient, the policy is costing the government a lot of money," an anonymous source from the Ministry of Health told the Global Times.

"What the ministry can do is limited. What the patients demand involves fixing deeper and more complicated social problems. The 'Four Frees and One Care' policy alone cannot work magic," said the source.

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