Lack of privacy discouraging Malawians access to sexual reproductive health services, says hooker

One of the sex workers operating her business in the Eastern Region District of Balaka has disclosed that ‘lack of privacy’ at Balaka
District Hospital especially at the Sexual Reproductive Health Service or Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Section is a major cause of worry and that it is barring many people from visiting and accessing quality Sexual Reproductive Health and ART services in Public Hospitals.

The hooker, who only identified herself as Carol, made the revelations during an investigative interview with this reporter on
Sunday 3rd September 2017 at one of the popular drinking joints in the district.

According to Carol, Sexual Reproductive Health or ART Service sections requires to be confidential but friendly not only to Sex Workers but also to the general public at large.

“Most of Malawians are losing their lives because they can’t go to public hospitals to access free medical attention on HIV or sexual
reproductive related illnesses due to lack of privacy” said Carol.

She also faulted some medical personnel who acts in unprofessional manner by disclosing the illness and statuses of their clients.

“Some of our colleagues working in hospitals talk too much so they easily forget that this may lead to discrimination and stigma. Other
clients also complain about the open clinic for Sexual Reproductive Health and ART clinics whereby their relatives or friends may see them entering or coming out and suspect them of having a disease and stigmatise them,” said Carol.

A visit by Nyasa Times at the Balaka District Hospital ART Section revealed that indeed the privacy of clients is at stake.

It was discovered that HIV patients are kept idle sitting in the corridors with their drug collection cards for ARV’s in their
respective hands.

It was also observed that the consultation rooms including where an HIV/Aids Patients gets weighed are flooded with not only doctors.

Nyasa Times also found out that many clients and potential users of services were uncomfortable with the the quality of care given by some health workers.

“I have been sick for sometime and decided to come here to have a blood test but I ended up asking for something else upon entering the consultation room and return without completing my mission after noticing that the environment was not that friendly,” said a young man claimed to have travelled from Rivirivi.

With all this, it is undisputed fact that HIV and Sexual related issues remains a big challenge to Public Health in Malawi and most
African Countries.

Human Rights Activist Allie Mwachande from MANERELA shared the same view with Carol.

“I think we still have alot of work to do. As long as it is no longer a secret that HIV/Aids exists and that people are taking ARV’s,
everyone has a right to confidentiality” said Mwachande.

He therefore asked the government through the Ministry of Health tomake sure that the challenges people living with HIV are facing are properly taken into consideration in order to create a room for other Malawians to open up and feel free to go to public hospitals to access medical treatment.

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