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.
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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :