Choma District AIDS Task Force (DATF) chairperson, Partner Siabutuba, says the removal of maize and fuel subsidies have negatively affected people living with HIV and AIDS in the area.
Addressing people during the national Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) commemorations held at Shampande Basic School under the theme, “Reaching everyone ,everywhere with annual counselling and testing service”, Mr Siabutuba said the increase in the transport fees has been greatly felt by the people living with the deadly pandemic.
He urged government to with immediate effect increase the number of Ant-Retroviral Therapy centres to cushion the high cost of transport that has gone up as a result of the removal of the subsidies.
Mr Siabutuba explained that people in rural areas were the most affected as they cannot afford to pay the new transport fares due to high levels of poverty.
The DATF Chairperson further appealed to government to quickly address the situation so that lives of people who come from long distances and cannot afford to find transport money to go to town to access drugs are not lost.
“We really request government to look into this issue because people will not manage to wait for the money realized from the removal of subsidies to be ready to be used in building hospitals, schools and road constructions,” he said.
And speaking at the same occasion Choma District Commissioner, Golden Nyambe, said the PF government believes in serving the poor, hence the reason it removed the subsidies in order to channel the money to programmes that will benefit the majority on the grass root in the long run.
Mr Nyambe said government will soon build health centres countrywide to reduce the long distances people are covering to access medication and has since opened medical stores in Choma, thereby making it easy for all clinics in the district to access the drugs at their door steps.
Mr Nyambe also called on all stakeholders in the district to extensively mobilize the communities to take a critical step of going for VCT.
Meanwhile Choma District Community Medical Officer, Rhoda M’kandawire, said her office has increased the provision of VCT services by integrating with other health services such as male circumcision clinic, maternal care and sexual reproductive health services.
Dr M’kandawire said this in a speech read on her behalf by Senior Clinical Officer, Austin Muchanga.
“Other services are chest clinic, general out-patient department and in-patient department, care and family planning,” she said.