Malawi President challenges the rich to adopt children orphaned by Aids pandemic

President Joyce Banda on Wednesday challenged all well-to-do individuals in the country to consider adopting children orphaned by HIV pandemic to achieve government agenda sending every child to school.

President Banda made the appeal in Lilongwe during the launch of a two-day National People Living with HIV (PLHIV) Conference 2012 held at Capital Hotel organized by MANET+ under the theme Putting Research Findings into practice.

The President was responding to concerns raised by one, Esnart Mbandambanda, who disclosed to have been living positively with HIV for thirteen years and that there were a lot of children out there who lost their parents and are desperately in need of parental care.

Departing from her prepared speech the President said it was very disheartening to see more child-headed families in the country when a number of individuals can afford to adopt one or two children.

Mrs Esnart Mbandambanda living with HIV poses for a photo with JB at the official opening of the 2012 national conference of people living with HIV organised by Manet + pic by Lisa Vintulla

Said President Banda: “I want to appeal to you – especially those of you in the front row and every well-to-do individual in the country – to take it as a challenge to adopt those children in dire need of support due to the HIV pandemic.

“I am leading by example by sending 10 thousand children to 30 schools throughout the country, and over 2,000 students in secondary schools not mentioning a free secondary school I implemented at Msigalira in Zomba.”

On HIV prevention and universal access to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), President Banda said Government had invested a lot in a number of interventions and she said the results are becoming clearer today.

The president also disclosed that Government had signed a lot of funds from particular donor partners to help mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS in the country.

“I am pleased to report that Malawi has signed a (US$208m) grant with Global Fund and (Government) has also successfully negotiated a (US$80m) project with the World Bank,” said President Joyce Banda, adding that Government would explore ways of mobilizing resources domestically, while using the external resources prudently.

President Banda further said she was aware that there had been shortage of bactrim/contrimoxazole for ART patients and she appealed to National AIDS Commission (NAC) and Ministry of Health to address the problem immediately.

She also said she had directed that all ART patients should be moved from Stavudine-based first line regime to the new World Health Organization recommended regime.

Earlier, Chiradzulu based woman Esnart Mbandambanda shared her 13-year-experience living with HIV, in which she applauded Government for making ART accessible to everyone in need of it.

Mbandambanda said as a person who lost her husband and relatives through the pandemic, she understands what it means to be infected and affected by HIV hence; she makes sure that she has adopted two children from the community and sends them to school.

She also appealed to all men in the country to go for HIV Testing and Counseling as early as possible to enable them access ART in time when they are found positive.

“Men are a big problem in issues of HIV mitigation,” said Mbandambanda, “more often they wait until they are too sick to even walk on their own before they go to hospital and when they do, it is too late.”

Also present at the launch were UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Patrick Brenny, NAC Chairperson, Mara Kumbweza Banda, NAC Executive Director, Dr. Thomas Bisika, MANET+ Chairperson Bertha Sefu, and Government officials.

It is expected that by the end of the two-day conference, organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS interventions attending the function will have share researches, findings and experiences in a bid to arrest prevalence rate of the pandemic.

According to available reports HIV prevalence rate has dropped from 24 percent in 1998 to 10 percent today while over half a million people in Malawi are on free ART.

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