A group of people living with HIV/AIDS in Dowa, has accused authorities in the district of neglecting them consequently putting their lives in danger.
The group members who disclosed their sero status some time back, feel ashamed to have come out openly and wrong to do that alleging that the District’s Aids Coordinator and District Health Officer are not helping them.
But, the District Aids Coordinator has said his office has no resources to help them.
Speaking in an interview, a representative of Mchotsa Nkhawa Community Based Organisation, Jafali Issa, explained that ever since he came to the district from Salima, he has never seen the District AIDS Coordinator coming to any of their meetings to hear their everyday challenges or encouraging them on how best they can continue living healthy lives beside being HIV positive.
Issa said in Salima, government officers and NGOs used to come to encourage and support them with nutritious food in order to live healthy lives, a development which is differently with Dowa.
Another member of the group, Billy Ziyada, alleged that the group tried to meet the District Health Officer to air out their concerns but this was turned down with reasons best explained by the authorities.
Ziyada said the group has never been invited or involved in events that concern them like the National Aids Day and candlelight memorial.
He said it is in these events where they are supposed to be meeting and sharing experiences on issues concerning them but the authorities seem to give blind eyes that there’s a group of people living with the disease in the district.
On his part, Mchotsa Nkhawa CBO coordinator, Anderson Massa, said people living with the virus need to be comforted and loved saying some members of the group are underweight and cannot afford to buy food.
Massa expressed hope that one day the District Aids Coordinator and District Health Officer will help them lobby for support so that they be regarded as productive citizens of the district.
He said he has heard of some NGOs implementing HIV/AIDS programs in the district such as Partners In Hope but none has met them, lamenting that probably they are being taken as the most sinful people on earth.
In his remarks, Dowa District Council’s Aids Coordinator, who is also Acting Director of Planning and Development, Martin Pindamkono, expressed a surprise of this complaint and denied the allegations saying his office involve them on issues and activities that concern them.
He revealed that his office has in many occasions involved CBOs and support groups including Mchotsa Nkhawa.
Pindamkono said the Mchotsa Nkhawa CBO coordinator, is a member of the District Aids Committee and does attend meetings where issues of HIV/AIDS are discussed.
He further added that the grouping among other support groups have been involved in Feed the Children, MANET + and NAPHAM activities targeting people living with the disease and Mchotsa Nkhawa Coordinator has always been organizing these activities.
In terms of support, Pindamkono said his office has no resources to help people living with HIV/AIDS does not receive funding for that cause, hence a great need for resource mobilization, appealing to those who have a helping hand to come in and assist people living with the disease in the district.
He further advised that people living with the disease should feel free to go nearby health facilities as there is Nutrition support to those that are malnourished through a program called Nutrition, Care, Support and Treatment.