Rumphi to host 2021 World Aids Day commemoration

Government has disclosed that activities to mark this year’s World Aids Day commemoration will take place at Bumba Full Primary School Ground in Rumphi where participants are expected to reflect the need of leaving no one behind in the fight against the HIV and Aids epidemic.

President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is expected to preside over the commemoration, which will be held under the theme: “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.”

Kanyasho addressing journalists in Lilongwe on Monday afternoon—Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The local translation for the theme being “Tonse ndife ofanana. Pamodzi tithetse EDZI. Mogwirizana tithetse miliri.

Addressing journalists in Lilongwe on Monday, the Deputy Minister of Health and Population, Chrissie Kalamula Kanyasho, said the theme is in line with Malawi’s goal of ending Aids as a public health threat by the year 2030.

Kanyasho said there is a need for everyone to rally against and confront societal inequalities, stigma and discrimination that drive the spread of HIV as well as to reach out to people who are currently not receiving essential HIV and AIDS services.

A cross-section of journalists and stakeholders in the HIV and Aids sector attending the briefing by Deputy Minister of Health and Population Chrissie Kalamula Kanyasho–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The Deputy Minister stressed that collaboration is the only way Malawi can achieve her dream of ending Aids as a public health threat by the stated year.

However, Kanyasho reported that Malawi has is “performing exceptionally well towards the achievement of the 95:95:95 treatment targets, which stipulate that 95 percent of those living with HIV should know their HIV+ status; 95 percent of those that have been diagnosed with HIV should be enrolled on the life-prolonging Anti-retroviral drugs and 95 percent of those enrolled on the life-prolonging ARVs should have their viral load suppressed.”

“These targets were planned to be achieved by the year 2025 at the expiry of the current National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV and AIDS (2020-2025). The country’s performance against these targets stands at 97:92:94. This performance is encouraging. As you can see, we have already surpassed the first 95 within the first year of the five-year period of the NSP. We are also on course to beat the third 95 within the shortest period ever as we are already at 94,” she said.

But Kanyasho lamented that despite the above success, Malawi is lagging behind on the second 95, currently at 92.

She said this is because many of those diagnosed with HIV are not starting treating on time as stipulated in the Test-and-Treat policy, which entails that those that have been diagnosed with HIV should immediately be enrolled on the life-prolonging ARVs.

“It is worrisome to note that these people say that they cannot start the ARVs while they are still healthy and strong. Starting ARVs while one is still strong helps keep the viral load low as well as reduce incidents of opportunistic infections; thereby enabling one to continue enjoying a healthy and long life,” said the Deputy Minister.

She further disclosed that Malawi has also significantly reduced cases of new infections from around 56, 000 in 2010 to around 19, 000 in 2021, and Aids-related deaths from 32,000 in 2010 to 10,800 in 2021.

However, Kanyasho expressed worry that HIV new infections are high in some subpopulations, citing the 28 percent of all new HIV infections being adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 due to social-cultural and economic factors, which make them more vulnerable to HIV than their male counterparts.

She appealed to journalists to research, cover and document the sessions nationwide, while at the same time informing the nation on what is taking place in various communities.

In his remarks, the Executive Director for Malawi Network of Aids Support Organizations (MANASO), Jones Chimpukuso, commended the efforts the government is undertaking to eradicate the pandemic.

Chimpukuso, however, said more needs to be done if Malawi is to win the battle against the disease.

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