Medical practitioner Dr Albert Mkandawire will fight to prove his innocence and has received the support of the Medical Council of Malawi (MCM after a Blantyre –based woman (name shielded), applied to court for to prohibit him from publicising her HIV status.
The woman asked the court’s relief against the doctor from physically and verbally abusing her and an order was given to Mkandawire not to engange”in publicising her sero-status, interfering with her friends on social media and preventing her from going to work comfortably.
Mkandawire , currently working as Nkhata Bay district health officer (DHO), said he is deeply upset with the accusation, and he denies exposing the woman’s HIV status and abusing her.
The medical practitioner argues that docctors are bound by a duty of confidentiality to their patients but this is not absolute.
He states that doctor should discuss how the patient can prevent transmission of HIV to his partner, for example, safe sex including consistent use of condoms and use of post-exposure prophylaxis.
Furher, Mkandawire argues that if the doctor has concerns that the patient is practising unsafe sex with a partners and has not disclosed the status, then the medical personel can justify breaching confidentiality and disclosure in the public interest (if failure to disclose may expose others to risk of death or serious harm).
HIV infected people are encouraged to disclose their statis to any sexual partner and must use protection in sexual intercourse.
Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust (Wlsa-Malawi) filed the application on behalf of the woman on March 9 2016.
Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) conducted an investigation on October 20 2015 and is expected to testify when the matter comes up for hearing.
The findings of the probe—titled ‘An Investigation Report on Allegations that Dr Mkandawire Violated [name withheld] Right to Privacy and Confidentiality by Revealing her Medical Conditions to Friends and Partners without her Consent’—was submitted to the council’s registrar on November 30 2015.
The purpose of the investigation was to establish whether allegations that Dr Mkandawire was involved in unprofessional conduct against the woman resulting in psychological trauma were valid and also to establish whether the medical doctor violated the doctor-patient relationship.
The Nation quoted the Council report which it reports that n the woman, upon a friend’s recommendation, met Dr Mkandawire at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre for medical assistance.
During the consultations, Dr Mkandawire suspected her of having tuberculosis (TB) on top of the existing HIV status, alleges the report.
The doctor then allegedly inquired if the woman had a boyfriend to relieve her of stress to which she replied that her husband died in 2010.
Later, according to MCM, the two started a romantic relationship for two years until Dr Mkandawire was posted to Nkhata Bay District Hospital.
The report alleges that when the woman visited the doctor after some time, she claims to have discovered that he had a new girlfriend, which led to a quarrel between the woman and the doctor.
The woman ended up going to Nkhata Bay Police Station officer-in-charge who advised her to return to her base in Blantyre, according to the MCM report.
In the report, the woman alleges that after some time, she received a phone call from Dr Mkandawire’s alleged girlfriend mocking her about her HIV status.
Later, after Dr Mkandawire had left for Egypt in November 2015, the two started sending each other abusive short message service (SMS) texts, says the report.
The woman accuses Dr. Mkandawire of revealing what the MCM report calls “too much information” to the new girlfriend.
Mkandawire told the investigative team that he never “exposed” the woman.
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