-Tonga chief urges male PMTC support

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— Chief  Sipatunyana of Kalomo district in the Southern province has expressed concern over low male involvement in antenatal visits by couples.

The Chief says this negative stance by the male folk over giving support to expectant wives would deter governments’ efforts on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCTC) interventions.

The traditional leader who is also a ‘safer motherhood’ champion under the USAID programme  being undertaken in Kalomo said it was saddening that men have distanced themselves from such a health imitative which aims to ensure that HIV positive expectant mothers do not transmit the virus to their un-born babies.

The chief however said he would use all the powers under his confines to ensure that couples escort their wives to antenatal visits and vowed that he will make it compulsory for any expecting couple to adhere to the concept and dared human rights activists if he would found to be violating married men’s rights in his chiefdom.

“I urge all village headmen to ensure that any expectant mother in my chiefdom should be escorted by her husband to a health facility whenever they go for antenatal checks, as this epidemic has no cure and the innocent unborn children should be protected,” Chief Sipatunyana said.

Meanwhile, the Kalomo district AIDS Task Force has expressed concern over the increasing number of religious sects and traditional healers that quarantine sick people in their custody discouraging them to take  medication and instead advise them either turn to their faith or given herbal concoctions and to drink salty water to be healed and only to later surrender them to health facilities when their health status deteriorates.

Task force chairperson, Joseph Kaluwe said the practice by the two groups has so far caused people living with the HIV to default on their treatment while loss of human lives have been reported by some support groups under the Network of people living with HIV (ZNP+), Kalomo chapter.

Mr  Kaluwe has since called on communities to report to his organization  or traditional rulers any such conduct so that the discouraging trend by such religious sects and herbalists could be stopped.