South Africa Warned of Red Tape in AIDS Fight

PRETORIA, South Africa, FEB. 4, 2004 ( South Africa’s Catholic bishops called for greater collaboration between the state and Church in assisting people with HIV/AIDS.

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“The Catholic Church calls on the South African government to step up its response to AIDS in the country by delivering on its proposed anti-retroviral rollout, and to overcome all bureaucratic hurdles which are hindering the realization of initiatives promoted by civil society in the health sector,” the bishops said in a statement issued today at the end of their plenary assembly.

“Second only to the state, the Catholic Church is the largest provider of home-based care for the sick, of palliative care for the dying, and of care and support for AIDS orphans,” the episcopal conference reported.

“Yet, many Church projects are struggling financially, while every year media reports highlight huge amounts of government funding that goes unspent,” the statement added. Because of “bureaucratic inefficiency and indifference, many orphans who are entitled to maintenance grants and sick people who have the right to disability grants, do not get them.”

“It would be tragic,” the statement continued, “if the people stricken by the pandemic had to be deprived of basic assistance and medical care because of red tape and even more so by point scoring.”

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