Government, NAC snub disabled people’s HIV/AIDS campaign
THE Ministry of Health and the National Aids Council today snubbed an HIV and AIDS campaign which aimed at finding ways in raising awareness on the virus among people living with disabilities (PWDs).
The campaign was organized by the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) and the Disability HIV and AIDS Trust (DHAT) and critical stakeholders like government and NAC were invited to meet the PWDs in a bid to find ways to reduce the prevalence of the deadly diseases in this community.
The move was motivated after realizing that the government has not put anything in place to assist the visually impaired and the hearing impaired on matters of HIV. To this end most people with hearing impairments allege that it is pointless to go for HIV and AIDS testing because most people manning the testing centers cannot communicate in sign language.
However despite the dire situation the Ministry of Health and its subsidiary National Aids Council snubbed the function despite having been invited well in advance.
Contacted for comment NAC Communications Officer, Tadiwa Pfupa was not sure if invitations had been sent.
“Please verify with the two organisations whether they communicated with NAC in relation to the function. From the objective you gave, we would have been glad and more than willing to work with them on this one, had we been invited. We have checked with our provincial office and they also have not received any invitation,” she said
Most PWDs who spoke to the Newsday on the sidelines of the campaign expressed disappointment over government’s conduct.
“This clearly shows that PWDs are not taken as important people in society. We have been complaining over the past years for the stakeholders to cater for our concerns in matters of HIV and AIDs but nothing has been done. The government is good at coming up with policies which do not cater for our needs like you hear them say “health for all” which is just meaningless. This is a platform where we could effectively interact but they chose to forego it,” said Elissa Ravenga who is visually impaired.
Another source, Farai Mukuta who has served in various capacities in portfolios that represent the disabled people had no kind words for the government and NAC.
“This is betrayal of the worst kind which has let down the PWDs. Imagine, partners funded the function and the government could not just attend to listen and plan with the affected people,” he said.
The campaign which saw over 200 people living with disabilities ran under the theme “Disability inclusion in HIV Testing, VMMC and Family Planning”.