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Socialist Democracy

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Socialist Democracy July 2004



By Dare Akinsola


Of the forty million infected with HIV and AIDS globally, at least, fifty percent are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with at least three million children infected in the sub-region with no fewer than 3 million are infected in Nigeria, with a prevalence rate of five percent.

Despite the initiative launched by the federal government in 2002, only ten thousand adults have access to anti-retroviral drugs at heavily subsidized prices, compared to the three million victims who have been condemned to death.

Lagos based Swiss pharmaceutical company, Swipha, has reduced the prices of its imported anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) by 66%. Another Indian firm producing the generic paediatric ARV in Nigeria, Ranbaxy, recently announced the price of its ARV cocktails at N9,500 monthly. Despite the huge price slash, majority of the victims cannot afford the drugs.

The pharmaceutical companies have been exploiting this disease to make huge profit from the victims in a country where about 80% of the population are living on less than a dollar per day, where only 10% of the population has access to essential drugs and where poverty is the order of the day.

It should be noted that poverty is the root cause of the high rate prevalence of HIV/AIDS in our society. A situation where people would want to have sex and cannot buy condoms, where ladies are being forced to commercialise their bodies for money to keep body and soul together.

Money that should have been spent on combating these diseases is being spent on official jamborees, subsidizing outrageous lifestyles of the ruling classes and their cohorts. The working class is the most susceptible to the disease. As such, a clear-cut strategy must be mapped out to combat this disease. This can however be attained only if the pharmaceutical companies are nationalised under the democratic management and control of the workers. With this, the victims of HIV/AIDS could have access to drugs at affordable rate.

Ultimately, the lasting panacea to free the oppressed strata, who are overwhelmingly the victims of the scourge - HIV/AIDS - is a total overhauling of the capitalist system where human needs are profit driven and be replaced with a socialist system where the needs of humanity would be put before profit. Until then, the scourge of poverty, unemployment, hunger and diseases will continue to live with the poor working masses.



Socialist Democracy July 2004