ARV default blamed on churches, n'angas

HARARE - Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) has accused some churches and traditional leaders of causing a sharp spike in the number of people defaulting on anti-retroviral drugs.

Mgcini Sibanda, ZNNP+ programmes officer, told the thematic committee on HIV/Aids in Parliament yesterday that many people living with HIV were dying after getting bad advice from faith healers and n’angas to stop taking anti-retroviral drugs ostensibly because they have been healed.

“Some churches, especially Pentecostal churches, are discouraging HIV-positive people from taking medication in the name of holy waters and oils and thereby exposing them to opportunistic infections,” Sibanda told the committee. 

“Traditional healers are prescribing herbs which have no scientific measurements.

“Imagine the damage caused if that person already has a liver problem... a number of people die.”

Zimbabwe has approximately 1,3 million people living with HIV with at least 700 000 accessing treatment.

Although adherence is believed by authorities to be problematic, the life-prolonging drugs are readily available at State hospitals for nominal fees.

Sibanda said the organisation has already started engaging the churches and traditional healers in an effort to address the problem.

“We have conducted 1 560 and will have more health-facility based meetings with traditional and faith healers as well as opinion leaders this year to create awareness,” Sibanda said.

“Most admitted that they were doing it from an uninformed point of view.” 

Health minister David Parirenyatwa has called for the arrest of prophets claiming to possess divine power to treat terminal diseases such as cancer and Aids.

Consistent and correct use of HIV drugs helps a patient reach a treatment optimal level where the viral load drops to a point where it can hardly be detected during tests.

Other challenges faced by HIV-positive people in Zimbabwe, according to Sibanda, include lack of resources to pay for user fees, transport to medicine collection points, related opportunistic infections, accessing the recommended diet and stigma.

Meanwhile, the committee meeting was delayed as legislators demanded that oral evidence be received from actual individuals living with HIV instead of representatives of pressure groups.

Senator Angeline Masuku said, “We have already heard evidence from National Aids Council and I think it’s very clear that today evidence should come from people living with HIV not representative organisations.”

Supporting Masuku, senator Cleveria Chizema asked the committee’s acting chair Tambudzani Mohadi to explain the presence of the pressure groups’ representatives rather than people living with the disease.

Comments (3)

Yeah Mr Sibanda. We lay hands on them and they receive healing in Jesus's name.

Philani Lithandane Ndlovu - 10 February 2015

ingaaa

tendai - 10 February 2015

Eimen!! The blood of Sheezus.

chama - 11 February 2015

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