HIV ALLOWANCES GUIDLINES IN PLACE
Government says it has introduced new guidelines on the implementation of the special allowance of civil servants who have declared their HIV positive status to curb abuse of the allowance.
Principal Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet responsible for AIDS and Nutrition, Dr. Mary Shawa, says each government ministry is now responsible for the implementation of the five thousand kwacha allowance program.
Dr. Shawa says government allocated a total of six billion kwacha for the program in the 2010/2011.
Since 2004, the government of Malawi has been championing the fight against the AIDS pandemic through various interventions at workplaces.
One of the measures was the formulation of HIV and AIDS workplace policies promoting the rights of government workers who openly declare that they are HIV positive.
The provision of civil servants with an additional allowance of MK 5000.00 to employees that are HIV positive was one of the initiatives.
But according to Dr Mary Shawa, Principal Secretary in the Malawi Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) responsible for HIV, AIDS and Nutrition, the initiative was abused by some civil servants in the country.
Dr. Shawa says, “Some people were abusing the allowance in various ways; for example, other would come up with fake documents indicating that they were HIV positive when in fact they were not.
These people would use the money on beer or worse still womanizing, thereby increasing their viral load.”
“For this reason,” says Dr. Shawa, “government decided to suspend giving the allowance directly to the employees.”
Dr. Shawa says as a result of this abuse, government decided to introduce new guidelines that would allow each ministry to come up with what is best for their workers.
“According to the new policy,” says the nutritionist, “each ministry or government department will be coming up with intervention measures that are suitable for their workers, after thoroughly scrutiny of who is to benefit from the allowance.”
In some cases, says Dr. Shawa, ministries and departments would be developing information and communication materials for HIV/AIDS intervention at their workplaces.
Malawi has over one million people living with HIV and AIDS.