Thursday 12 December 2013

The DREAM of Sant’Egidio: an Africa AIDS-free

This past December 1st, we celebrated the world day of the fight against AIDS, a fight that is very much alive and must be carried forth with tenacity and vigor. Notwithstanding the progress achieved and the more systematic use of antiretroviral medicines, the pandemic remains one of the most common causes of death in particular in sub-Saharan Africa.
To confront this plight, and to do it there, in Africa, where it is causing the worst damage, the Community of Saint Egidio has designed and put in place a custom-made program called
DREAM - Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition - a model of integrated action according to state of the art medical standards.
Saint Egidio had felt it necessary to accept the silent call from the sick of many African countries, and had decided to intervene in order to ensure one of the human rights that is most neglected in developing countries, the right to therapy.
Thus, in February 2002, a small big seed was planted in Mozambique, at Machava (Maputo), the seed of the cure for AIDS patients in Africa, the seed of the prevention of the vertical transmission of HIV to save the future of the continent.
That seed bore many fruits. DREAM is now in effect in ten African countries, 225,000 patients are cared for in 38 centers, 22,500 children have been born healthy: the virus did not pass from the mother’s milk into their fragile organisms. More than a million and a half people benefit directly or indirectly from the program. This includes not only the patients, but also those that are involved in health education programs, those that benefit from supplementary nutrition programs, from malaria prevention measures, the distribution of water filters, etc.
In a recent, well done reportage published by the Corriere della Sera titled “Pilgrimage in Malawi”, Ettore Mo describes the activities carried out by Saint Egidio in several DREAM centers in that country: “The great ‘safe haven’ of AIDS patients in these years has been the DREAM center […] the health program, but it is not only that, designed by the Community of Saint Egidio is the product of a dream, that of contrasting in a new and more effective way the AIDS epidemic in the African continent, and to reaffirm the universal right to a therapy, independent of one’s birthplace , so that millions of African children too may have before them
a future that now they do not even dare dream of”.
In a little more than ten years of life DREAM has touched the life of tens of thousands of people, made them get up, start living again, and has at the same time transformed many situations, entire regions. These were more than ten years of a dream, more than ten years of an excellent therapy that has been accessible and free for so many Africans, more than ten years to ensure that the right to health is extended also to the most neglected of the continents.

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