|NAPHAM Partners With Airtel in the Fight against Stigma and Discrimination.
By Lackson Kanyoza.
The National Association for People Living with HIV and AIDS (NAPHAM) has called on the general public to stop discrimination by mocking people living with HIV and AIDS.
The organisation in conjunction with Airtel Malawi has introduced an SMS service whereby patients are eligible to send messages to the organisation on how they have been treated in various hospitals by simply sending the feedback to 300.
The Executive director for NAPHAM Master Bwanamdoko
Mphande stressed that statistics show that stigma and discrimination is killing more people in Malawi than HIV and Aids itself.”Yes, we do have issues of stigma and discrimination. It’s almost 30 years since the pandemic was first discovered in Malawi. A lot of programmes have been made on awareness and it is sad to see that we still have cases to do with stigma and discrimination on various levels like families, schools, places of worship, in work places and we still have those challenges as that we do face.”
He added that “It’s our concern as an organisation working with people living with HIV. Hence, we have partnered with UNAIDS as well as Airtel Malawi. Airtel Malawi has provided us with a platform through which people who have experienced cases of stigma and discrimination can report to us and from there we can make a follow-up and find the way to address those issues,” said Mphande.
He said that people who have experienced stigma and discrimination should send an SMS through Airtel to 300.
“They should type ‘start’ or ‘yamba’. Once they do that they will receive a message and they should choose language either English or Chichewa. Then they have to share their problems or experiences about treatment as well as stigma.
However, the one reporting is asked to state the problem that he/she faced to do with treatment by healthy facilities or school community or any other places like verbal insulting or Name calling types of stigma and discrimination.
Mphande further stressed that the era where by people used to die of HIV and AIDS is gone and now people can live longer and healthy as long as they follow proper procedures.
The National Association for People Living with HIV and AIDS (NAPHAM) was established in 1993 by a small group of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) who observed that their needs were not being met. It was established to fight against stigma and discrimination and to promote and advocate for a conducive environment where PLHIV would live to their full potential and realize their goals.
NAPHAM is a membership organization and membership is open to everyone living with HIV and is interested in taking part in NAPHAM activities. It works directly with people who are infected and directly affected by HIV and AIDS through support groups formed at community level. As such it provides a human face to the pandemic. NAPHAM is operational in all the 28 districts of Malawi and three Regional Offices in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu and its Secretariat is in Lilongwe.