The Daily Times Malawi, Monday, July 13, 2009
By Lucas Bottoman
Zomba-based Tisungane Antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinic on Thursday celebrated its success story for reaching out to many HIV positive people with ART.
The clinic boasts of a record of putting over 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients on ART from health centres in Zomba, courtesy of Dignitas International.
Tisungane Clinic, which is part of Zomba Central Hospital, was established in October 2004 with the aim of fighting HIV/AIDS by, among other things, providing ARVs to HIV positive people in the district.
Head of Mission for Dignitas International Veronica Van Dam said her organisation appreciated the achievement, saying it was a milestone in the fight against the virus. Dam said the success story was due to good support Dignitas staff get from Ministry of Health, district health office, Zomba Central Hospital and the community within the area.
“We have trained 100 health workers in order to let them carry out AIDS-related services to the rural people,” Dam said.
Guest of honour at the function, Zomba District Commissioner Atanazio Chibwana thanked Dignitas International for rolling out such an important programme.
“I would like to encourage those who do not know their sero status to go for a test. There is no need for fear because ARVs are now available and accessible,” Chibwana said.
However, he asked Dignitas to increase their resources and make necessary information available to all people who need it for informed decisions.
A patient at Tisungane Clinic, Maria Zgambo, hailed the programme, which she said helped her to live happily.
“At first I used to frequently fall sick. However, it was not easy for me to go for a test even after being encouraged by my spouse. But one day I sneaked out to Kamba in Blantyre where a test showed I was HIV positive,” she said.
According to deputy District Health Officer (DHO) William Mlotha, both adults and children benefit from the services offered by Tisungane ART Clinic, which include HTC, ART and PMTCT.
“HTC is done in 45 centres, which include hospitals, health centres and other organisations. Provision of ART is done in 16 centres while PMTCT services are available in 29 health facilities,” he said.