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Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:11

Malawi Govt launches 2014 International Candlelight Memorial, HIV testing, counseling week

Written by  Blessings Banda

Lilongwe, September 18: Government on Thursday officially launched the 2014 International Candlelight Memorial, HIV testing and Counseling Week.

Speaking in Lilongwe at Central Office of Information (COI), Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Chris Kang’ombe said this year’s commemoration will focus more on the importance of counseling and testing.

“During the HTC Week, all communities are encouraged to access HIV testing and counseling services to be provided in all the districts in the country.

It is also expected that, during the week, all HIV Testing and Counseling centres including Government health facilities, Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) facilities, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)/Community Basic Organizations (CBOs) and private health sector, in addition to outreach and mobile HTC sites will operate at full capacity,” explained Dr. Kang’ombe.

He added that the primary focus for the HTC Week Campaign is on couples and young people with deliberate attempt to enable couples and young people from all over the country particularly those in hard to reach communities access HIV and AIDS services.

Dr. Kang’ombe further said during the campaign, children below the age of 13 will be allowed to get tested as long as a parent of legally acceptable guardian accompanies them as stipulated in the National HIV and AIDS Policy.

He also said this year’s theme “Let’s keep the Light on HIV: Get Tested” is very relevant to Malawi in that it will help people understand the need for sustaining the momentum of responding to HIV and AIDS.

“This theme calls upon all Malawians to start thinking about alternative sources of Financing the national HIV and AIDS response beyond 2015 and assume ownership,” said the Ps.

In his remarks, National Aids commission (NAC) Executive Director, Dr Thomas Bisika said the commemoration is very important as it gives an opportunity to all stakeholders involved in the national response to remind the people the problems HIV/AIDS has brought to the country.

“It will offer information to people about HIV/AIDS awareness, testing, where to get assistance and measures to take to stop the spread of the disease at national level” said Dr Bisika.

This year’s National commemoration will be held on Saturday 20th September, 2014 at Kapiri in Mchinji District and the commemoration will be followed by a one week Campaign for HIV Testing and Counseling starting from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th September 2014 as well as International AIDS Candlelight Memorial countrywide commemorations at District Assembly level.

This year’s event has been organized by Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National AIDS Commission (NAC), The Malawi Network of people living with HIV (MANET+), key stakeholders and national organisations of people living with HIV (PLHIV).

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