Photo of home care worker in Uganda (from included presentation)
I am making final preparations for my trip. This includes packing my remaining stuff and scheduling last-minute meetings in Cameroon. I realize now how little time we will actually be spending in the country – really six days for me and one of those includes travel to the airport.
I will be bunking down in Yaounde with an amazing woman from Uganda. Her name is Maxsensia and she is the HIV Coordinator for the Catholic Church in Uganda.
She is shaking things up. She is LGBT inclusive and is on a mission to end the stigma that proves a deadly barrier to medical treatment. This means expanding to home based care to reach the most marginalized and most at risk populations: not exclusively, but inclusively meaning LGBT, women and girls are treated equally as any other HIV/AIDS patient. No stigma.
This has me thinking about “medical apartheid” – something I am just educating myself about as I move into covering personal stories more so than following the money (see note).
This approach is nothing short of ground breaking for Uganda and her talk at the Cameroon conference will hopefully help spread the word. Maxsensia, with her connection to the Catholic Church creates hope of an all-inclusive faith-based response. An actual faith-based response free of judgement, leveraging the significant power of the church to deliver direct care.
My experience reporting on faith-based groups treating persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) has been an exercise in tearing-my-hair-out. The groups I visited in Uganda, while delivering some very important services to some people were at the same turn anti-LGBT, anti-condom (as one prong in preventative care) and in the worst cases in bed with anti-gay political leaders in fomenting anti-gay hate.
I have come by my skepticism of “faith-based” groups honestly. The billions these NGO’s have received from the US taxpayer…don’t get me started.
Maxsensia’s group gives me new hope. I have come to believe that any hope of ending the AIDS crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa will require help from the religious community. Religion plays an important role in the lives of its citizens. The key is sorting the wheat from the chaff, then defunding the chaff and supporting the wheat.
You can read about Maxsensia’s presentation by clicking this link. I encourage you to take a look.
You can support our delegation to Cameroon here.
Note: Medical Apartheid – more information, book, research here (interview on Democracy Now with Harriet Washington, Author of “Medical Apartheid”). I am learning about this myself and am very interested to speak to Maxsensia about this.
All work is Copyright 2014 by Andy Kopsa – information on reuse/permission and contact is here.