Praises for Vulindlela Aids research project

2008-01-29 00:00

PUMPING more money into rural community projects is the only way to bring prosperity to communities in need, Vulindlela Inkosi Sondelani Zondi told Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom, who visited the Vulindlela Clinical Research Unit yesterday.

Hanekom came to examine the success experienced in the area in various key programmes of research and was hosted by the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa).

Hanekom, who was accompanied by department officials, members of local government and University of KwaZulu-Natal academics, heaped praise on the project, saying he was inspired by the local people’s initiatives without the government’s intervention.

“Amakhosi have a very important role to play in the development of any society,” he said.

Hanekom added that development and prosperity in the area will not be realised if the community does not work along with Caprisa.

He noted that there is a mammoth task ahead and a lot needs to be done to rectify road infrastructure for accessibility to the clinic.

“I would like to congratulate Caprisa on what they have done for this community and hope that the research is successful and changes lives of many people around the world.”

Zondi said that he hoped the minister has understood the problems facing his community and will relay the message to his colleagues to rectify the conditions. “We hope that when Parliament opens, he will not forget to tell the national government of the problems facing the area and to ask for more money for Vulindlela.”

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, the director of Caprisa, said the centre was established as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH’s) Cipra (Comprehensive International Programme for Research on Aids) in 2003 following an invitation by the two amakhosi, Sondelani Zondi and inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi.

Karim said the visit by the minister highlights the importance of taking science to the communities and involving the community in the research. “This shows the community that the government has a genuine interest in the way in which the research is being done.”

A Tenofovir Gel Microbicide trial research volunteer, Zandile Zuma, said the research has taught her how to behave properly as a woman, to always use condoms and why it is important to do an HIV test regularly.

“I don’t have a problem with gossipers in the area who think I have Aids: the fact is, I know my status and I haven’t encountered any problems since I’ve used the gel. The big advantage is that some men refuse to use condoms and with this gel, I’m able to protect myself,” she said.

Zuma added that what they are doing is very important and it might change the lives of many women around the world.

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