Wednesday, March 10, 2010

By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

Participants in the sector meeting organised for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) have underscored the need for the constitution to guarantee free access to medication for People Living with HIV/AIDS and enshrine the right to health as a basic human right.

During a meeting that was attended by 35 participants and held at the Habakkuk Trust Boardroom on Wednesday 24 February 2010, participants also stressed the need for the decentralization of all medical services. Mrs S. Nyathi, from National AIDS Council stressed that the new constitution should ‘decentralize HIV and AIDS treatment just like any other condition’ and further challenged the PLWHAs themselves to think beyond ‘access to treatment and look at constitutional mechanisms of fighting stigma and further transmissions’. These sentiments were further echoed by a representative of a government parastatals, Mrs Brenda Homela who suggested that the constitution should make decentralization provisions that will ensure that ‘people be given ART at the workplace as they waste many valuable time traveling to queue at the OI clinics during working hours’. She said this could be very practical especially to those companies and parastatals that have ‘workplace medical clinics’ like the National Railways of Zimbabwe among others.

There was also debate on the use of the AIDS Levy currently being collected by government from civil servants. Most participants felt that the AIDS levy should benefit mostly those who are poor. Mr Davies Mazodze, a Lecturer and HIV Activists stated that ‘the private sector should also start contributing something to the AIDS Levy so that we can gather more resources for deserving people’.

The major issues that came out as constitutional issues from the meeting were issues to do with; the right to health, the right to access to medication, universal access to treatment, right not to be discriminated, the right to housing in spite of your HIV status, the right to Adequate medical information so as to fight stigma, discrimination and the continued spread of HIV and AIDS and the right to access state resources to curb the effects of HIV and AIDS.

The sector think tanks will continue on the 25th of February with one on Youths and Children.

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