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Funding woes cripple Aids fight

Malawi might fail to meet the global initiative on HIV and Aids fight dubbed UNAids 90’90’90’ due to the plundering of close to K90 million at the National Aids Commission (Nac) last year.

The development resulted in most of its beneficiary organisations downsizing and most activities coming to a halt.

After the incident, Nac has for the past six months failed to fund some of the key players in the sector such as the Malawi Aids Counseling and Resource Organisation (Macro), thus raising fears that the fight against the pandemic in the country.

Mzuzu Macro Branch Manager, Adamson Mwaisunga, said in an interview on Monday that following the development, his office laid off 13 members of staff, including counselors, thus raising the counselor-to-client ratio.

“The Nac incident has hit us hard; we had no choice but to stop carrying out most of our activities despite the high demand from the communities. Apparently, the client-councillor ratio has drastically increased because out of the 11 which we had, we have maintained just three,” he said.

Mwaisunga also disclosed that their monthly clients have gone down from 3,000 to slightly over 1,700.

He, therefore, expressed fear that the HIV prevalence rate might rise from the current 12 percent in Mzuzu and an average of six percent in surrounding districts.

“We have failed multitudes; people have been left in suspense because Macro is a main player that has capacity to get to very-hard-to-reach areas through motor vans and motorcycles but we have failed to do so due to lack of fuel.

“I am afraid with passage of time, the information gap on issues of HIV and Aids will widen, hence more risks,” he explained.

National Association for People Living with HIV and Aids in Malawi (Napham) Executive Director, Master Mphande, could not be reached for comment when called on Tuesday but speaking in personal capacity, former District Coordinator for the association in Karonga, Saul Diyoni, shared Mwayisunga’s sentiments.

Diyoni decried the funding crisis which led to disorganisation of support groups which he said are pivotal in ensuring adherence to treatment among patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

“There are a lot of side effects to that. For instance, patients now lack psychosocial support because all outreach programmes have come to a halt, stigma will be on the rise again, just like new infections and opportunist infections,” Diyoni explained.

Malawi on December 1 joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day under the theme ‘Getting to zero’.

According to the World Health Organisation, the 90’ 90’ 90’ campaign aims at reducing the number of people living with HIV and ensuring that they are aware of their infection by 90 Percent, getting 90 percent of such people on ART and ensuring that 90 percent of people on ART have no detectable virus in their blood

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