Benefaction and the HIV/AIDS pandemic

30 September 2002
DR CHRISTOPH Benn, one of the directors of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and TB, is among the visiting faculty and practitioners to teach on a postgraduate course that investigates the role that religion has to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Benn, a trained physician and theologian, was one of the lecturers on a recent module of "Religion, Faith & Health and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic", an Honours/Masters course offered jointly by the Graduate School in Humanities and the Faculty of Health Sciences. In Case Study: HIV/AIDS, he and others reviewed the link between medical science and various faith perspectives.

According to Benn, faith-based organisations have already and can continue to play a substantial role in halting the spread of the disease, whether it be in prevention, treatment or care. "I believe – and this is something I will present in the course – that the faith-based organisations do have a very specific contribution to make, and there's still a huge potential in them that has so far not been fully realised," he said.

In his position with the Global Fund, Benn currently works with both faith-based and secular organisations to rectify some of the distortions associated with the allocation of funds and facilities among nations plagued by the various diseases.

"We have a lot of prevention methods available – we know basically what works and what doesn't work – and we're getting increasingly more tools for care, but we have a massive problem that these are not available to almost 99% of those that need it," he said.

Benn has worked as a doctor in a number of countries in Africa. He has also been involved with the World Council of Churches and is the Deputy Director of the German Institute for Medical Mission.

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