Coast regional commissioner Mwantumu Mahiza has dismissed recent reports by foreign media alleging that pupils living with HIV/Aids are being stigmatised in some Tanzanian primary schools.
According to the RC, the reports said some HIV/Aids positive students were reportedly being forced to wear red ribbons as a sign to those around them at school that they lived with the disease.
The RC told reporters in her office here yesterday that the media reports were false, saying that the pupils who wore the labels had other health problems, including heart diseases and mental illness.
“I am sorry to say that the story is not fair and not balanced, as a result, it has irked me and anybody who knows the truth. The reporter didn’t do the job well because no comment was sought from the regional and the district developments…it [the story] was intended to tarnish the image of the region and the country,” she said.
Making specific reference to the reports, Mahiza said they claimed that two pupils of Kibaha and Kongowe primary schools in Kibaha district both aged 13 years were forced to put on red ribbons to indicate that they HIV/Aids positive.
In response to that, she said that a Standard VI pupil [name withheld] from Kibaha Primary School the news story claimed to have been stigmatised had heart problems and was using a special instrument known as peace maker obtained from India.
Mahiza said the instrument was marked for easy identification and quick assistance when in need of help. She informed that the mark was put after consultation between the school administration and pupils’ parents.
Regarding the second pupil [name withheld] from Kongowe Special Primary School, she said a mark was put by his parents for easy identification as well because he was mentally ill.
Mahiza made clear that it was against the culture of the region and the country to label pupils with the HIV/Aids because country’s policies and legislations were against all forms of stigma.
The RC said she had officially reported the matter to the Minister of State, President’s Office (Good Governance) Mathias Chikawe for action.