By Owen Zayambika – Mana.
National Aids Commission (NAC) has expressed satisfaction towards the integration of Covid-19 and HIV/AIDS response in Mchinji district.
Speaking during COVID-19 and HIV/Aids integration briefing on Wednesday in Mchinji, NAC Head of Programmes Sub-committee, Commissioner Safari Mbewe said it was necessary to intervene in the Covid19 fight using the technique used in fighting HIV/Aids pandemic.
He said to bring out effective approaches to combating the novel Coronavirus while at the same time ensuring steady provision of HIV/Aids services, the two pandemics had to be integrated.
“When Covid-19 struck, we thought we could facilitate the integration of the response towards HIV/Aids as well as the Covid-19 pandemic considering that we have done so well in terms of HIV/Aids response with the implementing partners available in the districts.
So right now, we are trying to use the same structures used in HIV/Aids fight to mitigate the impact of Covid-19,” he said.
Members of the Commission together with officials from Mchinji District Health Office toured Mchinji-Mwami border to appreciate the integration efforts.
Mbewe said he was impressed with how Mchinji has taken the integration works so far.
“I am very much impressed with what I have seen at Mchinji-Mwami border. Firstly, I toured Mchinji wellness centre, a structure where all health services are provided for around the border community.
He added, “So, what has impressed me is the way the services have been integrated. Initially the structure was meant to cater for HIV/Aids services which courted stigma and discrimination towards clients. So, as NAC, we are happy because we want these efforts to be in every district,” he said.
Mchinji Director of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Julianna Kanyengambeta said the integration has given the health office an opportunity to maintain quality service delivery of HIV/Aids cases while at the same time dealing with Covid-19.
“When it comes to HIV/Aids, close interaction with the client is important, while Covid-19 response stresses social distancing, so we had challenges. However, through the integration programme, we have now been guided on how we can handle HIV/Aids cases in the wake of Covid-19.
Right now, we are giving a three month-supply of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to our clients as a way of decongesting our health facilities,” she said.
Kanyengambeta said follow up on the clients is done at community level through the Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) who recommend other directions if applicable.
The Commission made donations of hand sanitizers, face masks and liquid soap to a number of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in the border district.
National Aids Commission in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been dealing with international travellers where truck drivers have been targeted.
The Commission has been distributing hand sanitizers and face masks to frequent border-crossers as a way of mitigating further spread of the novel Coronavirus.