Stakeholders have identified knowledge gaps on pre-exposure prophylaxis (prep), voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC), female condoms and lubricants as main barriers in the fight against HIV and Aids in Kasungu.
This was disclosed at Bua Health Centre during an advocacy meeting organized by the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and Aids (MANERELA+) with financial support from International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) in partnership with Child Rights Information and Documentation Centre (CRIDOC).
The purpose of the meeting was to enable recipients of HIV and Aids services to present their issues to duty-bearers and other stakeholders.
This follows the introduction of prep, VMMC, female condoms and lubricants by the Malawi Government through the Ministry of Health and Population as one way of preventing people from contacting HIV from their sexual partners.
During the meeting, HIV and Aids care recipients lamented lack of awareness about the services health facilities are providing to prevent new infections.
Other challenges they cited included lack knowledge gaps on tuberculosis screening and preventive therapy, delays of viral load testing results, lack of documentation for sexual gender-based violence and knowledge gaps on the changes of bacterium drugs.
Numeri Chagalamuka, a representative of faith leaders at the meeting, said despite VMMC services being available at Bua Health Centre, a larger population of the residents is not accessing them because of a myth that circumcision is for Muslims.
Chagalamuka said there is a need to triple efforts aimed at demystifying such myths in order to address the problem.
In her contribution, Fanny Kamchamcha, a member for Tithokoze Support Group, pleaded with healthcare workers to start targeting all ART clients with TB screening services.
The health facility’s nurse and ART provider, Lena Kalinga, encouraged communities to embrace health-seeking behavior, stressing that this is key in preventing or treating diseases.
Kalinga asked community and religious leaders to help in educating and sensitizing people through health talks and community sensitization meetings.
MANERELA+ Project Manager, Carol Kassam, said her organization is ready to provide support for training community and religious leaders on the promotion of the various services health facilities are providing.
MANERELA+ is a network of religious leaders living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS. Established in 2004, the organisation advocates for policies that mitigate the impact of the pandemic and curb further spread of the virus.
With membership from both Christian and Muslim community, faith leaders take a leading role in advocating for the elimination of factors that lead to further spread of the virus, including child marriage.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :