COVID-19 Screening Deprives of PLWHA’s Privacy in MJ

Kampango Kampango - pic by Hastings Jimani

People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Mulanje have bemoaned continued violation of their right to privacy when screening them of COVID-19 at the health facilities’ gates.

A teen age girl living with HIV said that when she went to access ART service at Mulanje Mission Hospital and asked for timely COVID-19 screening at the hospital gate, she was told to produce her health passport book to authenticate her status.

“I was disturbed but since I wanted to be screened fast and get in for ART service, I showed the health worker my health passport book against my consciousness,” said the girl.

A certain man also claimed to have met a similar predicament at Mulanje district hospital.

The two said they feel their right to privacy was violated.

Chairperson of Mulanje District HIV/AIDS Committee Peter Meleka the committee will investigate the matter.

“We are also planning to hold sensitization meetings on ART adherence following reports that some ART clients are defaulting medication,” said Meleka.

George Kampango who is member of the African Community Advisory Board (Afro-CAB), an organization that promotes adherence to ARVs in Africa, challenged the District HIV/AIDS Committee to find solution to this matter.

“This committee has a huge task to address numerous challenges that affect PLWHA in the district and some challenges have come with COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kampango.

District Health Office spokesperson Innocent Chavinda said that while separating the critically sick from other patients is encouraged, there is need to respect rights of all patients including ART clients.

He said the matter will be investigated.

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