AIDS Care Watch

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Malawi:Youth Body Calls for Prudent HIV/Aids Resource Management

The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe), January 11, 2006, By GREGORY GONDWE

The Malawi National Youth Dialogue (MNYD) has called on various institutions to exercise prudence when managing resources meant for HIV/ programmes.

In its World AIDS day message on December 1, the youth body said it was concerned that despite various quarters calling for the reduction of unjustified conferences and workshops organised in the name of the pandemic, there is still a continued defiance from organisations concerned.

"We wish to say; HIV and AIDS should not be seen as an economic opportunity but a service to humanity. Let us bring our salaries, benefits and support to acceptable levels where we serve the poor," reads the statement signed by MNYD National Coordinator Kondwani Munthali.

Munthali bemoaned the purchase of hundreds of 4 by 4 vehicles to fight AIDS while the majority does not have access to ARVs, nutritious food and even basic drugs for treating opportunistic infections which it said has no moral justification.

Appealing for what it called many real victims of the pandemic, orphans, widows, grandparents and those living with the virus, the youth group urged the National Aids Commission (NAC) to take a moral consideration and fund 'real life saving programmes'.

"We instead call for increased and unconditional funding to the Youth for them to fully tackle the issues that affect their HIV and AIDS programme," says Munthali in the communication where he is also noting that the majority of those infected are young people below the age of 30.

He said since this year's World AIDS Day is 'Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise', the country must keep its promise to the younger generation who are working to reduce HIV/AIDS infection. He encouraged the organisations in the country to provide services that support positive living.

"It would be ideal for youth organisations and groups specialising in HIV and AIDS to be equipped and supported to develop VCT centres within their working areas. Efforts to create youth-friendly health services in some health centres still do not seem to command youth confidence," he said.

The statement also observes that as more young people undergo HIV testing, addressing the challenge for young people who are HIV positive and issues of stigma in a family set up have not fully worked and in some instances overlooked.

"Parents refuse their willing young people to disclose their status; communities still accuse many young people- especially young females of being careless," observed the youth organisation.

It also called for more investment in youth to youth approaches that could develop youth ambassadors that will propagate positive living and fight stigma "A deliberate strategy should be undertaken to ensure that those test positive, especially the young people have access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and support in their respective communities," said Munthali.