Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says human rights issues need to be integrated in HIV and AIDS programmes especially at work places, saying the latter (HIV and AIDS) is in also a human rights issue.
Commissioner for the MHRC, Dalitso Kubalasa, made the remarks in Mzuzu when he opened a meeting on rights based approach to HIV and AIDS work place programmes for District Commissioners in Northern Region.
“HIV and AIDS is a human rights issue in that lack of respect for human rights increases the spread and impact of the epidemic. Furthermore, the disease exposes people who are affected by the virus to various human rights violations through stigma and discrimination,” said Kubalasa.
He said it was therefore imperative for district commissioners to be trained on tools and approaches that would help reduce cases of stigma and discrimination which are rampant in communities, including work places.
District commissioners who are chief executives of local councils are an integral part of government and main duty bearers in the protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights, Kubalasa said..
Speaking during the sidelines of the meeting, Karonga District Commissioner Emmanuel Bambe said Karonga District Council is currently embarking on numerous interventions to curb discrimination against people with living with HIV and AIDS.
“As a District council, we realized that most people did not go for testing and access antiretroviral treatment (ART) due to stigma associated with HIV and AIDS as such, through sensitization meetings we are conducting, we are able to reach to such people as witnessed during the HIV and Testing Week where there was an increase in people seeking VCT services,” he explained.
Bambe also said to show that people with HIV and AIDS have rights, Karonga District Council in collaboration with non -governmental organizations in the district ensures that people living with HIV and AIDS participate in development activities at district level like everybody else.
Malawi Human Rights Commission organized the meeting with Funding from National Aids Commission (NAC).
Similar meetings are expected to be held in Central and Southern Regions.