‘Love and faith’ dinner and dance: Malawians in UK commemorate World Aids Day

Malawians in the UK will this Saturday host a fundraising Dinner and Dance in Luton to commemorate World Aids Day and come together to reflect and reinforce their commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

John Tembo Jnr and Evangelist Kalonga, Betty Makoni

John Tembo Jnr and Evangelist Kalonga, Betty Makoni

Evangelist Elizabeth Kalonga

Evangelist Elizabeth Kalonga

World Aids Day which falls on December 1st every year is not only a priority for every business and citizen, but it is a core part of the international development agenda.

Deputy High Commissioner of Malawi to the UK, John Tembo will attend the sumptuous ‘Love and Faith’ Dinner and Dance as a guest of honour joining other important dignitaries to reaffirm Malawi government’s concerted efforts, rigorous commitment and unflinching support towards the Sustainable Development Goals in which HIV/AIDS is one of the key challenges.

Speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times the Malawian envoy to London, Tembo Jr. said the Malawi government alongside its global development partners are committed to drive out the virus to zero adding that efforts are in place to fight the epidemic and the stigma and discrimination.

Said Tembo: “The Malawi government is very much committed in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, putting focus strenuous efforts on the areas where we will have the most impact.”

“The Malawi government believes that the health of its citizens is paramount because only a healthy nation is productive. We encourage people to go for testing so they know their statuses. That is a very important step in the fight against the epidemic,” added Tembo.

Other notable dignitaries at the function which will to be held on Saturday, December 5th 2015 from 6: 00 PM to 11:00 PM at the Sizzall, 40-44 George street Luton, LU1 2AZ include Air Malawi Cargo Country director Steve Msamala, reigning Miss Malawi UK Thandi Mkandawire, local leaders from Luton Town among many others.

Patrons to the fundraising dinner and dance will pay a small contribution fee of £15 per head as entry charge and will be treated to a sumptuous meal and a dance and thereafter there will be an after-party from 11:30 pm until late at the Grosvenor Casino downtown Luton.

The Air Malawi Cargo flamboyant boss, Msamala told Nyasa Times In an interview, his organisation as a company for Malawians and runs by Malawians has a corporate social responsibility to serve the Malawian people in all aspects of live.

“HIV and AIDS is a global concern and as Air Cargo Malawi, this subject matter is very close to our hearts. The epidemic is a devastating scourge and its impact, the sickness and deaths affects us all in one way or another. If one is not infected then surely one is affected,” said Msamala.

Msamala who is an astute marketer said Air Cargo Malawi was proud to be part of the World Aids Day commemoration whose theme is ‘Getting to Zero’ saying it is always a pleasure to be part of the community it serves

“Air Cargo Malawi is 100 percent owned by Malawians and it serves the interests of Malawians. We are always honoured to be our bosses are. We’re employed by Malawians to run the errands on their behalf and we believe that together in unity we will drive out the HIV virus out,” said the soft spoken Msamala.

On her part, Bradford based Miss Malawi UK 2015 Queen, Mkandawire, who is a second year architecture student at the University of Salford in Greater Manchester said she will use her office to sensitize the youth both in the UK and in Malawi about the dangers of deadly HIV virus.

“I am very honoured to be invited to this important function. As Miss Malawi UK, I have a duty to engage my fellow youth in an awareness campaign. Only an iron can sharpen an iron, they say, and as young person, I can make positive influence for change in behaviours among my fellow youths,” Mkandawire said.

‘Zero Stigma’

According the host Evangelist Elizabeth Karonga, who is also the director of the ‘Love and Faith Project’ the purpose of the event is to encourage HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention adding that during the event there will be guest speakers on various topic who includes; co-host Lady Munya Sajanga, Edith Chikago-Parker, Muzvore Betty Makoni, Prisca Juma-Jere, Elizabeth Chikoleka-Makossah, Lindani Moyo and Mercy Nangwale.

“We invite all Malawians, friends of Malawi and everybody to join us to this great event. “I challenge that we re-think on outdated stereotypes, I challenge that we must challenge myths and be positive about HIV. We must bring stigma to zero and now is the time,” declared Evangelist Kalonga.

World Aids Day has taken place on December 1st every year since 1988 and it provides an opportunity to draw attention to the HIV epidemic around the world to raise awareness, to remember those who died, to show solidarity with people living with HIV, to celebrate survival and health and raise money for HIV and AIDS related causes which include medical and scientific research.

“This annual observance is a day to recognise and thank thousands of volunteers, community members, medical and health professionals and scientists who are working together tirelessly to find safe and effective ways of living a healthy life positively,” said Pastor Kalonga.

Every year World Aids Day events take place across the globe to raise awareness and show support and cohesion for those living with the virus and to impart or share basic level knowledge of how the virus spreads and the risks of contracting it and how to live safer and better.

For World Aids Day 2014, UNAIDS created a campaign around ‘closing the gap’ and has produced resources to support that campaign.

 ‘Solid Evidence’

World AIDS Day, first recognized in 1988, was the first ever global health day. As of 2012, approximately 35 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.

Miss Malawi UK Thandi Mkandawire will be there

Miss Malawi UK Thandi Mkandawire will be there

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has caused nearly 40 million deaths globally since cases were first reported in 1981.

In many ways, this is the most hopeful World AIDS Day we have seen in the 35-year history of the scourge that we know as HIV/AIDS. Yet, it is also one of the most challenging, in terms of the work we still have to do to translate scientific progress into more saved lives, fewer new infections and ultimately an end to the AIDS pandemic.

In addition, we now have solid evidence from numerous clinical trials showing that the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, a highly effective from of HIV prevention that involves taking a single anti-HIV pill each day, significantly reduces an individual’s risk of contracting HIV.

The World Health Organization recently responded to these developments by recommending  that every HIV-infected person immediately begin treatment and strongly supporting the use of PrEP for individuals at high risk of HIV infection.

According to newly released numbers from UNAIDS, 1.2 million people with HIV died and another 2 million became newly infected with HIV in 2014. And so, this World AIDS Day, rather than hitting the brakes, we must accelerate our efforts.

Fifteen years ago, when the International AIDS Conference was held in Durban, South Africa, very few people on the continent had access to HIV therapy and few believed it would even be possible to deliver HIV treatment in resource-limited settings.

That conference was a milestone in the history of HIV because it prompted a call to action to urgently bring treatment to developing countries — and the world listened.

In 2016, the conference will return to South Africa, which is now home to the largest HIV treatment program in the world. Much like its 2000 predecessor, the 2016 conference comes at another pivotal moment in the HIV epidemic and will provide a global platform to raise awareness about the work that remains to be done to make the end of AIDS a reality.

HIV is one of the deadliest diseases humankind has ever faced, claiming 40 million lives so far. But as formidable as HIV remains, we have come too far to allow progress towards its termination to stall.

Evangelist Kalonga called upon Malawians in the UK to join in the cause this Saturday saying  it is important that people people HIV and AIDS is devastating at the very root and fibre of our society.

“Armed with correct information, surely we can win this war. We just need to hold our hands together and fight the enemy as a one people,” said Evangelist Kalonga, adding “God is love, let us show some love to those who lost their lives and cheer those that are living positively with the virus.”

10.6% of Malawians age 15-49 are HIV-positive. HIV prevalence in the Southern Region is about twice as high as prevalence in the other regions. Overall, 12.9% of women and 8.1% of men are HIV-positive.

Malawi is considered a success story in reducing HIV infection rates, passing the tipping point – when the number of people starting treatment exceeds the number of new infections. According to UN figures, between 2001 and 2011, the rate of new HIV infections dropped by 73%. This was helped in part by the introduction of ARVs in 2003, which have slashed death tolls from 92,400 to 45,600 over the past decade.

But, with an HIV prevalence of about 10 percent among people aged 15 to 49. Malawi has the ninth highest HIV rate in sub-Saharan Africa, according to UNAids estimates.  And more than 40% of new infections are among 10 to 19-year-olds. The country is heavily reliant on support from the international donors to fund its national HIV and Aids programmes. Any increase in the number of people on second-line treatment could exacerbate the problem.

An estimated 107,800 (95% credible interval 101,600-115,800) people were living with HIV in the UK in 2013. The overall prevalence was 2.8 per 1,000 population aged 15-59 years (1.9 per 1,000 women and 3.7 per 1,000 men.

Globally, 35.0 million [33.2–37.2 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2013. An estimated 0.8% of adults aged 15–49 years worldwide are living with HIV, although the burden of the epidemic continues to vary considerably between countries and regions.

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10 months 25 days ago

Amen, If every Malawian can be tested and know their status, Get treatment if it happens that detected positive. We can eliminate HIV/Aids by 2020. It not the end of the world to be positive. The chances of a person who is on treatment to pass the virus to another person are reduced men lets do our part..

10 months 26 days ago

To God be the Glory Go konko.