Dec 14, 2017 Last Updated 3:12 PM, Dec 14, 2017
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Communities Malawi’s central region district of Ntcheu are being challenged to be vigilant in disseminating messages that will lead to the elimination of gender based violence and HIV and AIDS amongst women in the district.

This is according to representatives of Coalition of Women Living with HIV and Aids in Malawi (COWLHA).

The development comes as the organisation is implementing a five year project with emphasis on women empowerment hence combating the pandemic.

Speaking to Capital FM, the organisations Executive Director is of the view that the awareness messages can help in reducing incidences of gender based violence as well as HIV and Aids amongst women.

Edna Tembo stated that women are subjected to torture and abuse from their husbands hence at risk of contracting the virus.

“In most cases, women do not have a say when it comes to negotiation safe sex with their husbands.

And with such cases our women are at a higher risk of contracting the virus in such circumstances,” Tembo explained.

Meanwhile, the organisation has trained over 100 community action groups from Traditional Authority Ganya to help in the dissemination of information on the effects of gender based violence.

The organisation is also hoping to reduce the HIV prevalence amongst women who are at risk of contracting the virus due to such evil acts.

The Coalition of Women Living with HIV and Aids in Malawi (COWLHA) was established in 2006.

It unites different groups of women as a civil society force dealing with issues of gender and women’s rights in context of HIV and AIDS that impact on the lives of women living with HIV.

Dignitas International, a health focused non– governmental organisation is intensifying efforts to ensure Malawi achieves the United Nations’ set of 90 – 90 – 90 targets in HIV/AIDS.

The 90 – 90 – 90 goals are a made of three ambitious goals set by the United Nations member countries across the world.

They are aimed at ensuring that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people diagnosed receive antiretroviral treatment, and that 90 percent of all the people receiving ARVs have their viral load suppressed.

The organisation’s Phalombe District HIV and Aids Testing and Counselling Coordinator, Trevor Makata made a commitment to the targets during a stakeholders’ meeting held in the district on Monday.

According to MANA, Makata outlined the organisation’s new plans aimed at fast tracking steps towards the 90 – 90 – 90 target.

Makata however notes that the organisation’s race towards 90 – 90 – 90 goals has been slow considering the timelines set for Malawi.

Dignitas International is a medical and research organisation dedicated to improving health care for people facing a high burden of disease and unequal access to services.

It is committed to working with patients, health workers, researchers and policymakers to tackle the barriers to health care.

Dignitas was launched by Dr. James Orbinski and James Fraser as a humanitarian response to a global health catastrophe.

 In 2004, the AIDS epidemic was ravaging Malawi, a small country in sub-Saharan Africa, destroying its social and economic infrastructure and threatening its very survival as a nation.

Without access to treatment and care, AIDS was a death sentence in Malawi. Hospitals were doubling as morgues as patients were literally dying in the corridors.

The situation was an affront to human dignity. We began our commitment to addressing this crisis by setting up an HIV clinic in Zomba district the poorest corner of one of the poorest countries in the world. In our first month at the clinic, we started 33 patients on treatment.  Today, this figure has climbed to over 272,500.

Malawi is believed to be on track to achieving the 90:90:90 target in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

The target, set for the year 2020, aims at achieving 90% diagnosis of all HIV positive people; provision of Anti-Retroviral Therapy for 90% of those diagnosed with HIV and suppressing 90% viral load of those treated.

And according to officials from the Ministry of Health and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the country’s works towards reaching the target, seems successful so far.

Speaking during a Media Café organised by MSF on Tuesday, Deputy Director in the Department of HIV and AIDS of the Ministry, Thokozani Kalua disclosed that Malawi has managed to diagnose around 83% of people that are living with the disease.

He added that 85 percent of the diagnosed are now on treatment and that 88 percent of those that are currently on treatment have their viral load suppressed.

According to Kalua, this just shows that Malawi will be able to beat the target by 2020.

He was however quick to point out that despite the progress made so far, there are still significant challenges which include the fact that fewer men are getting tested and that in some age categories, girls and women are more affected by the virus than men are.

Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS) has taken a huge step forward on a quest to combat the spread of HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) and teenage pregnancies among the youth.

Traditional leaders in Zomba, Malawi’s former capital, have formulated bylaws aimed at punishing those discriminating people living with HIV / AIDS.

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