Chitipa district Council Senior Nutrition and Aids Officer, Loti Makina has on Tuesday expressed her concern over the abuse of health resources in the district by sex workers.
Makina was speaking this during a two day workshop for faith leaders from the district interfaith Aids committee (DIAC) and members from Aids affiliated community based organizations (CBO`s) held at NICE offices in Chitipa.
Makina felt very concerned by one speech from a veteran chitipa sex worker, Christina Chisunkha who spoke highly praising the hospitality the sex workers receives from medical personnel each time they come with the problem of sexual transmitted diseases.
The sex worker, who is not ashamed of her profession said, none of the fellow sex workers have ever encountered a mistreatment or foul language by health personnel every time they rush for treatment when they contract STI`s.
“Let me commend medical personnel at chitipa district hospital for their warm welcome and timely provision of treatment and confidentially every time sex workers seek STI treatment at the hospital.” Chisunkha said.
Little did Chisunkha know the wrath her commendations were going to attract from Makina, Aids and Nutrition specialist.
“ Much as it is appreciated that people in the district have begun developing health seeking behavior, by among other things, patronizing health facilities when they feel unwell, we cannot encourage sex workers to continuously and consecutively contract STI`s because they have easy access to treatment.” Said Makina.
Makina said besides the trend being costly to government which has to always ensure that health facilities have enough supply of drugs to treat STI patients, it puts sex workers themselves at big risk of contracting HIV a virus that causes Aids.
Makina emphasized that although government shoulders the responsibility of promoting people’s Rights to good health, by ensuring that citizens have equal access to quality health care services, such as STI treatment, patients must also be responsible enough to avoid abuse of the services.
Said Makina, “Despite overstretching hospital meager resources in procurement of STI drugs, when sex workers continuously contract STI, they are giving themselves a way to a virus that causes AIDS.”
One medical officer at Chitipa District Hospital, who opted for anonymity, said sexually transmitted infections are some of the diseases commonly treated by the hospital’s out patient department (OPD) and that most patients are sex workers.
But the Board Chair person for Young People Living with HIV, Violet Lindiwe Banda blamed further spread of STI`s among sex workers on absence of awareness on how the victims can avoid contracting the infections.
“The number of STI patients can easily reduce if they are counseled and given key awareness messages on how to have safe sex , besides the dangers that they will land in as a result of the infections.” said Banda.
Meanwhile, it is not clear how men who sleep with women and girls with STI`s get their treatment, giving room for speculations that perhaps they are treated with highest degree of privacy.
The Board Chair also condemned arrangement by Chitipa District Hospital to allocate a special room and days when people living with the virus can see medical personnel, describing the system as tantamount to discrimination.
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