Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Burying AIDS victims alive in Papua New Guinea
RELATIVES are burying some people with the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV/AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) alive, a local health worker has said.
Margaret Marabe a local activist who works for Igat Hope organisation in the capital, Port Moresby said families were taking the extreme action as they could no longer cater for the sufferers or feared getting infected.
Ms Marabe said she witnessed the "live burials" during a five-month trip to PNG's remote Southern Highlands.
The renowned activist, earlier this year carried out an awareness campaign in the Tari area of the Southern Highlands.
"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.
Ms Marabe 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.
PNG has been grip by the worst HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.
An estimated two per cent of the six million population are believed to be infected, and HIV diagnoses rise by around 30 per cent each year.
Meanwhile, international health agencies have warned action must be taken to prevent hundreds of thousands of people becoming infected.
Ms Marabe, said that people in remote parts of PNG remained ignorant about HIV/AIDS and urged the government to take action, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported.
"There are no voluntary counselling training centres in Tari. There are also no training programmes on HIV," Ms Marabe 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 that the government was working closely with agencies to curb the pandemic.