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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

SWAZI POOR HAVE TO EAT ANIMAL FEED

After reports that destitute people with HIV in Swaziland are forced to eat cow dung to survive, comes news that others are eating animal feed to stay alive.

The Times of Swaziland reports today (18 October 2011) that there is a serious food shortage in the village of Siteki.

It features Esther Maseko, a 67-year-old widow who looks after five grandchildren. Two of her biological children and one of her daughters-in-law died from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.

The Times reports, ‘Today she deals with more than her own failing health. She continues to look after her five grandchildren and, in this community, she is the second HIV-positive person to claim she does not get food parcels through the Ministry of Health’s Food by Prescription programme.’

Maseko is from the same community as Sophie Magagula, one of the people whose plight became the centre of international news attention. She was so poor she was forced to eat cow dung before she could take her ARV drugs for HIV.

The Times reports, ‘Maseko does not eat cow dung as her fellow villager Magagula does but she eats animal feed (umhhungu) with the five children in the event they have no proper food, and that happens often, she said.

‘“I know people will think we are putting on an act when we say we have nothing to eat. We eat umhhungu because we have no choice. I am the second person in this village to talk about my impoverished life and what desperation has done to us,”’ the Times quotes Maseko saying.

The Times adds, ‘Maseko, if the statement by the officers from the Ministry of Health are anything to go by, should be getting food parcels from the Good Shepherd Hospital, but said she does not get any food parcels.

‘She repeated the words of another villager, who said the Food by Prescription program-me benefits people with a low CD4 count.

‘“We don’t get food from the hospital. They said my condition has stabilised and, as a result, we don’t get food packages,” Maseko told the Times.

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