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Title:Wits University's response to HIV/AIDS: flagship programme or 'tramp steamer'?
Authors:Cairns, Murray
Dickinson, DavidISNI
Orr, Wendy
Periodical:African Journal of AIDS Research
Geographic term:South Africa
Abstract:HIV/AIDS is a threat to the creation of human capital and development prospects in southern Africa and South Africa. The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is a well-regarded institution of higher education in Johannesburg. The authors outline the university's qualified failure to implement its HIV/AIDS policy through a comprehensive set of programmes. However, as they describe the decommissioning of this potential flagship programme to a 'tramp steamer', they identify a number of challenges to the policy's implementation: the necessary scope of an effective programme, the limits to existing capacity, and the need to secure funding. They suggest that the key to failure of HIV/AIDS programmes at Wits lies with the configurations of power within the university and the funding logic that militates against institutions of higher education assuming the high cost of HIV/AIDS programmes. Such institutions receive funding and fees irrespective of whether or not students complete their education as HIV-positive or negative, are aware of their HIV status or not, and - if HIV-positive - are enrolled in a disease management programme or not. This financial logic, in which universities bear the cost of student HIV/AIDS programmes but receive little short-term benefit, poses a threat to the region's future human capital. While institutions of higher education may well recognize the moral imperative of responding to HIV/AIDS for the benefit of society, current funding models do not support this. Four suggestions are put forward to address this unfortunate political economy configuration; they involve changing funding formulas, securing direct funding from business as the primary recipient of the human capital created, soliciting international donor funding, and direct ring-fenced funding offered by government. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]