An Evangelical of Malawi clergy has proposed to government to draft a law that would send to jail all pastors or prophets that discourage people from taking taking their life-saving drugs , describing the trend as very worrisome.
Reverend Evans Jeka of Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) central region manager said it is extremely worrisome that most Malawians stop taking the life prolonging drugs on the advice of the clergy.
“This is killing people, this is no different from killing, I do not see any difference of these clergy and the killers of people with albinism, they need punishment and a custodial jail term would deter us,” he said.
Health workers and civil society groups have of late said many people who are HIV are defaulting on ARVs on the advice of the clergy.
At least two million people are HIV positive in Malawi with a million of them on ARVs.
One of pastors Adam Usi has openly come out in the open to tell people that he is HIV positive.
“I have come out in order to encourage my congregation to go for HIV testing so that we have an HIV free nation,” he said.
He said instead of telling people to default on ARVs, the clergy should encourage people to go for HIV testing so that they know their status and can start the ARVs as soon as they can.
Malawi Interfaith Aids Association (MIAA) also condemned pastors giving this advice, saying: “It’s dangerous to the public and dangerous in terms of public health.”
“It’s irresponsible,” MIAA Executive Director Robert Ngaiyaye said, suggesting pastors should instead “encourage people to receive treatment”.
Ministry of Health spokesman said prayer is not a substitute for HIV treatment, advising that faith organisations can make a positive contribution to raising awareness of HIV by highlighting the benefits of testing and effective antiretroviral treatment.