Sex workers abuse hospital resources in Chitipa

Chitipa District Council  has expressed concern over  strange tendencies by some sex workers who repeatedly seek  treatment  for sexually transmitted infection (STI) in  health facilities, describing the behavior as  gross abuse of meager medical resources.

Chimwemwe Banda speaking to reporters after the workshop
Chitipa District Hospital

The concern was expressed  Tuesday by Chitipa District Council Senior Nutrition and AIDS Officer, Loti Makina   during a two day workshop for faith leaders from District Interfaith AIDS Committee (DIAC) and members from AIDS affiliated community based organizations (CBOs),  held at NICE  offices at Chitipa Boma.

Makina  sounded  the concern on the wake of statements by a veteran sex worker for  Chitipa based freelance community based organization (CBO), Christina Chisunkha who spoke highly of the hospitality sex workers enjoy from medical personnel each time they visit health facilities for STI treatment.

Chisunkha, who has never been ashamed by her profession, said non of her group members  has reported any  foul language  or any form of mistreatment  by health personnel when they rush to health facilities after contracting STIs .

Said Chisunkha, “ Let me commend medical personnel at Chitipa District Hospital for their warm  welcome and timely provision of treatment and confidentiality  every time  sex workers  seek  STI treatment at the hospital.”

But little did Chisunkha know the wrath her commendations were going to attract from  Makina,   AIDS  and Nutrition specialist.

Said Makina, “Much as it is appreciated that people in the district have  began developing  health seeking behavior, by among other things, patronizing health facilities when they feel  unwell,  we  can not encourage  sex workers to continuously and consecutively contract sexually transmitted infections just  because they have  easy access to treatment. “

Makina said besides the trend being costly to  government which has to always ensure that  health facilities  have enough supply of  drugs to treat STI patients, it puts sex workers themselves  at big risk of contracting HIV a virus that causes AID.

Makina emphasized that  although  government shoulders the responsibility of promoting  people’s  Rights to good health, by ensuring  that citizens have equal access  to quality health care services, such as STI treatment, patients must also be responsible  enough to avoid abuse of the services.

Said Makina, “Despite overstretching hospital meager resources in  procurement of STI drugs, when sex workers continuously contract  STI, they are giving themselves away to a virus that causes AIDS.”

One medical officer at Chitipa District Hospital, who opted for anonymity,  said  sexually transmitted infections are some of the diseases commonly treated by the hospital’s out patient department (OPD) and that most patients are sex workers.

But  the Board Chair person for Young People Living with  HIV (y+),Violet Lindiwe Banda blamed  further spread of  STIs among sex workers on absence of awareness on how the victims can  avoid contracting the infections.

“The number of STI patients can easily reduce if they are counseled and given key awareness messages on how to have safe sex , besides the dangers that they will land in as a result of the infections.” said Banda.

Meanwhile, it is not clear how men who sleep with women and girls with STI get their treatment, giving room for speculations that perhaps they are treated with highest degree of  privacy.

The Board Chair also condemned arrangement by Chitipa District Hospital to allocate a special room and days when people living with the virus can see medical personnel, describing the system as tantamount to discrimination.

Said Banda,” The moment you separate HIV positive people from other patients in service provision, you are openly discriminating them and everyone will look at them as people  they must not mix with, which will defeat efforts to promote inclusiveness.”

Her remarks  were also contrary to  Chisunkha’s  stand,  who argued that giving HIV patients special days and separate  rooms to meet the doctors was great respect for the group.

However, in Chitipa District, to  pronounce that one is HIV positive and is put on  ARV therapy is no longer a taboo.

Some HIV positive people delight to be  called  the  staff  or the bankers, according to Chisunkha.

The workshop which was organized by an NGO known as New Organization Advancing Human Rights (NOAH), with funding from MANASO,  was aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge on issues of Human Rights, especially for people living with HIV and the marginalized minority groups, known as key population.

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5 years ago

With councelling, please educate them and provide them with CONDOMS when they come for treatment.

Peter Kumpalume
Peter Kumpalume
5 years ago

This is discrimination. Sex workers are human beings and they have rights. One of their rights is the right to life. If I ask, do sex workers get these STIs on their own, no they get them from men. So you are telling me , the men who sleep with these sex workers can get treatment but the sex workers cannot. Makina you should resign, you are a duty bearer and you are supposed to respect the rights of people you are mandated to serve. My heart goes to medics and health personnel who treat sex workers without discrimination- Ambuye… Read more »

5 years ago

Make them pay for medicals. These people are responsible HIV and yet we treat them with kid gloves. In fact they contract these disease in the course of money making business. Why should they get free medication?

chris solomon
chris solomon
5 years ago

Nyasa times ur the best media hw in mw kp on alerting us

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