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CBOs vital in HIV and Aids, malaria fights

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The Adventist Health Services (AHS) has said functioning community-based organisations (CBOs) can drastically reduce the number of Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) defaulters and help in the fight against malaria.

Speaking when he visited Kapalamula4 CBO, AHS Programme Partnership Agreement (PPA) Coordinator, Simon Langesi, said people living with HIV and Aids who belong to CBOs rarely default on treatment because of the robust support systems instituted in groups.

“In health system strengthening project, we work with District Health Offices to equip health surveillance assistants (HSAs), doing review meetings, health information management, combating malaria through village clinics and support supervisions apart from partnering with other organisations such as Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living or Personally Affected by HIV and Aids (Manerela+) in strengthening CBOs to deal with HIV and Aids stigma and discrimination,” Langesi said.

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He said within the CBO, members encourage and supervise each other on ART adherence while expert clients encourage other people to go for testing and also preach about coming out in the open.

Langesi further said the fight against malaria and HIV and Aids will never be won if people at grassroots level and CBOs who work on the ground are sidelined instead of being empowered with knowledge.

Kapalamula4 Chairperson, Joseph Machila, of James Village in Traditional Authority Nsamala, said almost all 30 members of his group are healthy because they adhere to ART and fight stigma and discrimination.

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“The number of defaulters has drastically gone down and people are living healthier and longer lives because drug adherence is taken seriously,” Machila said.

Manerela+ Balaka District Coordinator, Harold Kachepatsonga, said they partnered AHS to ensure quality care to people living with HIV and Aids through strengthened health systems and CBO work in alleviating human suffering.

“We work with religious leaders, women and youth living or personally affected by the pandemic to advise and encourage them to continue ART adherence and disregard HIV and Aids faith healing,” Kachepatsonga said.

He said PPA has enabled Manerela+ to reach out to people in the village with messages on the disadvantages of buying malaria drugs from local shops instead of going to hospital for plasmodium test.

AHS in partnership with Manerela+ is running the PPA project with funding from Christian Aid in Balaka and Karonga.

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