The devastation that COVID-19 has brought on global economies and the grief it has left on many families cannot be overemphasized.
Many countries are now counting the cost and putting up strategies to counter reoccurrence of the disastrous experience. In the same light, Non Governmental Organisations have intensified efforts to ensure the vulnerable are protected from the deadly pandemic.
One of such organisations is the Coalition of Women Living With HIV/AIDS (COWLHA) which recently in collaboration with the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (NAPHAM), Network of Journalists Living with HIV (JONEHA), National Association of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (Y+) among others donated various personal protective equipment and water buckets to people living with HIV in Blantyre.
Executive Director for COWLHA, Edna Tembo, said the organisation saw it necessary to donate the items to people living with HIV as a way of enhancing their protection from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This initiative was hatched when we met as Civil Society Advocacy Forum which advocates for Tuberculosis, HIV and other HIV/AIDS related conditions. With Support from UNAIDS, we rolled out a project to sensitise people living with HIV on COVID-19. With funding from UNAIDS, we are targeting 1500 beneficiaries spread across the country thus 500 in Northern Region, 500 in Central Region and 500 in Southern Region. Other than the PPEs we are also encouraging them to get vaccinated,” said Tembo.
On his part, Catherine Nyirenda, Psychosocial Counsellor for Kadidi Health Centre said the beneficiaries were trained in how COVID-19 spreads, mitigation measures and how to prevent it.
“The training focused on people living with HIV, we analysed the risk factors that Covid poses and how we can ensure that every HIV positive person doesnot become vulnerable and succumb to the pandemic,” said Nyirenda.
The exercise also targeted the youth. 15-year-0ld Chiyembekezo Matiyasi of Y+, a youth-focused organisation dealing with HIV/AIDS, said COVID-19 is endangering lives of many youths.
“The training is timely, we have acquired in-depth knowledge on COVID-19 and the facilitators have clarified several issues,” said Matiyasi.
Chairperson of JONEHA and Southern Region Coordinator for people living with HIV in Blantyre City, Milton Thole, said the training was long overdue as the nation has experienced hard times with the pandemic.
UNAIDS pumped in $85,000 (K69.2 million) for the entire project. Part of the funds have been used in the procurement of PPEs, hand sanitisers and water buckets among other items.