A religious grouping Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected with HIV and Aids (MANERELA+) has expressed concern over people who default on their Anti-Retroviral (ARV) treatment, a situation that may lead to drug resistance and has called upon the government through local Councils to take a swift action in dealing with false healing prophecies.
The development comes following the increase number of ART defaulters across the country.
Some experts have also said some people default due to stigma, discrimination and denial.
For instance in the Eastern Region District of Balaka alone, Nyasa Times has established that about 2 500 people have been defaulting antiretroviral treatment between June 2017 and July 2018.
While confirming the statistics, Balaka District Hospital Principal Clinic Officer Dickson Mambulu said the number is considerably high.
Mambulu said his office is currently doing a follow up to convince the defaulters to restart taking the life prolonging drugs.
According to the Principal Clinic Officer, defaulting breeds drug resistance.
Reacting to the sad development, MANERELA says this will hamper efforts to achieve 90:90:90 targets.
“As MANERELA+. Having a number of 2500 defaulters is on the higher side looking at efforts being made by various players on the ground on HIV and AIDS response. As MANERELA+ we will continue with our efforts to sensitize the masses on treatment adherence and we condemn those who claim they have healing power reaching a point of stopping people from taking ART,” said Harold Kachepatsonga, a Project Manager for MANERELA.
He added that: “We are also urging government through the local councils and parliament to come up with stiff penalties to these prophets because if something is not been done now, we will continue losing innocent souls”.
Kachepatsonga said Aids-related mortality is increasing due to false prophecies, and reiterated that there was still no cure for HIV. He also pleaded and advised people taking ARVs to join support groups for people living with HIV.
“Many people who are dying because of being prayed for are those that are not members of support groups” said Kachepatsonga.
He explained that ARVs can suppress the HIV virus to a level where it cannot be detected but it does not mean it is not there and once one start defaulting, it multiplies again.
Kachepatsonga asked government to come up with a statutory instrument which can then be used to hold false healing prophets to account.
According to Kachepatsonga, under the global fund funded project the approach on PMTCT module is using of mentor mothers and men peer educators hence urging the implementing partners to join forces with other players on the ground to map the way forward.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :