Johannesburg November 28 and 29, 2002
Prepared by Roberto Giraldo, MD, New York.
This meeting on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS was organized by the Health SectorCoordinating Unit of SADC and the Departments of Health of the fourteen SADC member states: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Dr. Thuthula Bolfour, Director of the Health Sector Coordinating Unit of SADC, with headquarters in Pretoria.
Mr. Manasa Dzirikure, HIV/AIDS Project Manager of the SADC Health Sector Coordinating Unit.
2. GOALS OF THE MEETING.
- The role of nutrition in improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS.
- The role of traditional and indigenous therapies in improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS.
- The range of food supplements and traditional/indigenous herbal products available as immune boosters promoting improved health for people living with HIV/AIDS in SADC member States.
- The regulations guiding the use of food supplements and herbs to improve the health of people living with HIV/AIDS in SADC member States.
- The ways in which food supplements and effective traditional and indigenous herbal medicines can be integrated into the national health delivery systems of SADC member States.
3. WHO ATTENDED?
Approximately fifty people: Two delegates from each of the SADC Departments of Health, one delegate from UNICEF, two from UNAIDS, several traditional healers and alternative/complimentary therapists, affected individuals, and two international lecturers, Dr. Okezie Arouma from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, from London, and me from New York.
4. ISSUES ADDRESSED.
- The role of nutrition in improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. Roberto Giraldo, New York. Addressed the scientific bases of nutritional immunology, nutritional deficiencies, and HIV/AIDS; nutritional deficiencies and the progression of HIV-positive individuals to AIDS; nutritional deficiencies and the "transmission" of HIV/AIDS; oxidative stress and HIV/AIDS; nutritional and antioxidant deficiencies in the pathogenesis of AIDS; and nutritional and antioxidant therapy for the prevention and treatment of AIDS. The main objective of this presentation was to demolish the myth that HIV = AIDS = DEATH and to describe the scientific bases and international experiences which support the conclusion that AIDS can easily be prevented and healed with alternative, nontoxic, efficient, and inexpensive measures.
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- The role of traditional therapies in improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Jeff Mashimbye, University of Venda, South Africa.
Dr. Mashimbye described the herbs that are most commonly used as immune boosters in preventing and treating AIDS in the Southern African Region.
- Testimonials on the successful use of nutrition, food supplements and traditional therapies. Criselda Kananda and Ernest Saila, affected persons who have rejected antirretrovirals and are enjoying perfect health thanks to nutrition, food supplements, and immune booster herbs. Both are married and have healthy children and spouses. Mr. Saila is with the HIV/AIDS & STD Directorate, and Chief Community Liaison Officer for Care, Counselling & Support, Department of Health, South Africa. Also during this session Ms.
Tina Van der Maas, a nurse and naturopathic therapist from Cape Town, described her very positive experiences preventing and healing AIDS by natural means since 1989 at the Human Responsibility & Health Educational Services organization.
- Regulations guiding the use of food supplements and herbs to improve the health of people living with HIV/AIDS in SADC member States. Dr. M. Moloi, Department of Health, South Africa.
- Scientific evidence for the use of food supplements and traditional therapies. Prof. Okezie Arouma, from the Free Radical Neurobiology Group, Imperial College of London. He has written numerous scientific papers and several books on free radicals and oxidative stress in health and disease.
He explained in detail the role of free radicals, especially oxidizing species, in the pathogenesis of AIDS and the rational for the use of antioxidant supplements and herbs for the prevention and treatment of AIDS.
- Integrating traditional medicine and nutrition into the National Health Systems of SADC member States. Ms. Boitshepo Giyose, Tanzania, Coordinator of Food and Nutrition at the Commonwealth Regional Health Community Secretariat for East, Central and Southern Africa.
- Famine in SADC and its impact on malnutrition. Presented by the Director of UNAIDS Office for Southern Africa. She presented a summary of the document prepared by UNAIDS for the International Day of AIDS; "AIDS epidemic update December 2002." She explained the views and politics of UNAIDS on HIV/AIDS, noted that "the epidemic was out of control" all over the globe, promoted the use of antiretrovirals, and described how "HIV worsens malnutrition." UNAIDS delegates were upset when I explained that their epidemic was "out of control" simply because for twenty years they have been on the wrong track.
Each lecture was followed by experiences on the issue by one of the SADC member states, and general discussion. In this manner we had the opportunity to have a broad discussion of issues in the Southern African region. Some key matters:
- Poverty levels have been on the increase in the last decade in most SADC countries. In Zambia, for example, poverty affects more than 80% of the total population.
- Malnutrition in children under five in most SADC countries is about 40%, with 30% underweight.
- 78% of the population in the SADC region have vitamin A deficiency.
- Mauritius has the lowest rates of malnutrition in the region. Clinical trials show that there are no micronutrient deficiencies in this country and that very probably this is one of the reasons for its having the lowest rates of AIDS in the countries represented at the meeting: 0.08% (14-49 years).
- It is estimated that 80% of the world's population, mostly from developing countries, depend upon traditional medicines for primary health care.
- Every year 1500 tons of traditional medicines are sold in markets in the city of Durban, South Africa and this industry is valued at up to 2.3 billion South African rand per year (about 290 million dollars).
- The Ngwelezane Hospital, KwaZulu Natal, in South Africa has established a natural treatment clinic where more than 400 patients have undergone treatment with natural remedies for AIDS.
- Several hospitals in SADC countries, through their dietetic services, have initiated nutritional programs for AIDS patients. For example, the King Edward Hospital in Durban has a detailed eight point nutritional program for people with AIDS.
Consultant for the meeting, Dr. Nceba Gqaleni, Director of the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Natal, School of Family and Public Health Medicine, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Durban, South Africa. Dr. Gqaleni presented the opening address at the meeting, as well as the closing address.
The following are some key issues, not in order:
- Providing food to African communities is an absolute priority and nutrition must be the basis for Primary Health Care.
- The integration of food/supplement programs into the National Health Systems.
- Investment in nutritional growth and monitoring. Sensitizing governments to the important role that nutritional/antioxidant supplementations can play in development.
- Creating nutritional guidelines for public awareness in SADC member states.
- There is a scientific rational for the alternative use of nutritional/antioxidant supplements and herbal remedies in the fight against AIDS.
- The use of food, micronutrient/antioxidant supplements, and herbal remedies can reverse the effects of AIDS and can prevent the progression of HIV-positive individuals to AIDS. Their use can avoid the "transmission" of what is known as HIV from person to person and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. Their use can arrest "HIV viral loads" and can reverse AIDS dementia.
- Food, nutritional/antioxidant supplements and indigenous herbs are an effective and inexpensive alternative for the prevention and treatment of AIDS. Testimonies explained that it could cost as little as US $7 per month.
- Micronutrient/antioxidant supplements and immune boosters that are being used in the treatment and prevention of AIDS include: vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, n-acetyl cisteine, l-gluthamin, zinc, copper, manganese, alphalipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, B-complex vitamins, and flavonoids.
- Antioxidant and immune booster foods and herbs that are being used in the treatment and prevention of AIDS include: sutherlandia (Sutherlandia frutenscens), African potato (Hypoxis sp), garlic, spiruline, aloe vera, astragalus, echinacea, turmeric, licorice, golden seal, ginkgo biloba, grape fruit seeds, rosemary, sage, oat, olives, cloves, grapes, papaya, mango, kiwi, pineapple, avocado, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, cabbage, cayenne, cinnamon, sprouts, yogurt.
- To continue identifying locally available supplements.
- There have been clinical trials and chemical analyses, especially with Sutherlandia and African potato, which indicate that both have immune stimulant properties. Similar research needs to be implemented in all SADC member States with indigenous traditional herbs that are being used in the fight against AIDS.
- Record similar regulations for nutritional supplements, antioxidants, and indigenous herbal remedies for all SADC member States.
- Integration of traditional healers in National Health Systems.
- Create programs for fighting AIDS that permit a diversity of interventions.
- To succeed in the fight against AIDS it is necessary to have an intersectorial approach: poverty, malnutrition, agricultural resources, etc.
- Psychosocial/spiritual care and support: Explain to people that AIDS is easily preventable and curable.
- Learn from experiences with nutrition and herbs in the fight against AIDS from other countries. Identify Centers of Excellence.
- Protect indigenous medicinal flora.
- Need for nutritional/antioxidant supplementation in the fight against AIDS.
- Need for investment in nutrition.
- Implementation of nutritional education.
- Nutritional programs for people affected with AIDS and for everyone else.
7. REPORT AND FOLLOW UP.