PM: Punish hospital staff demeaning AIDS patients

02Dec 2021
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
PM: Punish hospital staff demeaning AIDS patients

​​​​​​​PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has instructed hospital administrators to take stern disciplinary measures against health staff found to discriminate people living with HIV/Aids, saying such behaviour has to be eliminated in the society.

Commemorating World Aids Day at national level in Mbeya, the premier said that reports show that employees in health centres habitually stigmatise those patients, divulging private information of HIV/Aids patients when providing services at such facilities.

“Such acts should immediately be reported for action to be taken,” he stated, representing President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the event, whose theme this year is “Adhere to equality, eradicate HIV/Aids, and eradicate infectious diseases.”

Addressing stigma is vital in the battle against HIV/Aids as it affects patient attendance in health centres for obtaining antiretroviral drugs and regular medical consultations. Stigmatization compels a culture of secrecy and silence tied to the fear of victimization, including denial of access to many public services where a minimum of selection is conducted, experts affirm.

The premier said the country has laws on HIV/Aids amended several times to make sure HIV/Aids services reach all those targeted. “I understand that stigma and discrimination on people living with HIV is still a big challenge in our society,” he told the gathering.

“This hinders our efforts in the war against HIV/Aids in the country. The result is that some sufferers see it as a shame to use HIV/Aids services due to stigma and discrimination, especially in rural areas,” he elaborated.

Mbeya city residents stage a World AIDS Day (December 1) commemorative march brandishing a placard bearing a message underlining the need for solidarity in the war against HIV infections and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome they can lead to. The Day’s climax was held at national level in Mbeya Region. Photo courtesy of PMO

Speaking on this year’s slogan, Majaliwa said it is the right one because it provides a better direction on how to remove existing challenges to obtain better results.

“Equality is needed for basic needs of various vulnerable groups because HIV/Aids does not select age or gender. Hence the slogan reminds us of our responsibilities in providing services to all groups, including children, youth, women, girls, male adults, elders, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups,” he stated.

He assured stakeholders in the fight against HIV/Aids that the government will continue working with non-governmental organizations for sustainability of HIV/Aids treatment and access to drugs everywhere.

“The government will continue to allocate budgetary resources and seek Sponsorship Funds on HIV/Aids Control,” he said, asking the commission, TACAIDS to consult with the Treasury and Health sector authorities to work on procedures to boost the fund.

For her part, Jenista Mhagama, the Minister of state in the PM Office (Policy, Parliament, Coordination, labour, Youth, Employment and People with Disabilities) said antiretroviral services to people living with HIV will continue. Those found to be infected should immediately start using ARVs, she appealed.

In preventing new HIV/Aids infections, the government, in collaboration with development stakeholders is implementing the fourth national strategy on AIDS control, she stated, elaborating that the 2018/2019 to 2022/2023 strategy aims to reduce new HIV infections.

Leticia Maurice, chairperson for the National Council of People Living with HIV (NACOPHA), expressed gratitude to President Samia for her vision and efforts in looking for financial resources for implementing the country’s various development projects, including those relating to the health sector and infectious disease in particular.