Malawi to raise pay of civil servants with HIV

LILONGWE (Reuters) – Malawi plans to start paying civil servants suffering from HIV/AIDS about $35 a month extra to help them buy more food, Health Minister Marjorie Ngaunje said on Monday.

Malawi, with a population of about 13 million, ranks among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, home to two-thirds of those infected with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Ngaunje told Reuters the government had sent out a circular urging all civil servants affected by the disease to come forward.

“We thought an extra 5,000 Malawi kwacha on top of their monthly salaries would go a long way in improving their nutritional requirements which are essential to their well-being,” Ngaunje said.

Civil servants in Malawi earn an average $200 per month.

Official estimates show that AIDS kills about 10 people an hour in the impoverished southern African nation, which is increasingly unable to cope with the crisis.

Health officials estimate that a million Malawians are infected with HIV and about 640,000 have died of AIDS-related causes since 1985.

Malawi spends about $13 per capita on health annually, far below the $36 recommended by the World Health Organization.

Mary Shawa, Principal Secretary for Nutrition and HIV/Aids in the president’s office, said the monthly payment would help prolong the lives of many affected civil servants.

“We know that thousands are infected in the civil service and with the new system we expect to have exact numbers when people enroll as beneficiaries,” she said.

1 Response to “Malawi to raise pay of civil servants with HIV”

  1. February 3, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Poverty Forcing Teenage Girls into Risky Sex Work

    Women and girls make up a growing proportion of those infected by HIV/AIDS. The United Nations estimates that every day 6,000 young people aged 15 to 24 become infected with HIV. A staggering two-thirds of these new cases are adolescent women. Economic, social, and cultural factors contribute to the disparity of new HIV/AIDS cases between men and women. At the end of 2004, UNAIDS reported that women made up almost half of the 37.2 million adults (aged 15 to 49) living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. The hardest-hit regions are areas where heterosexual contact is the primary mode of transmission. This is most evident in sub-Saharan Africa, where close to 60% of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women.

    Child prostitution in India is on the rise, and one third of the sex workers are being under 18 years old. The underlying causes of child trafficking include poverty and lack of economic opportunities for young people, the low status of girls, high demand for commercial sex, cheap labour, weak law enforcement, discrimination and conflict. Surveys on trafficking and sexual exploitation conducted in South Asia, including in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, show that trafficking of children is lucrative, well organized and linked to criminal activity and corruption. It is also transnational, often hidden and therefore hard to combat.

    This depressing picture is compounded by the use of teenage girls as prostitutes in countries throughout the world. An unknown but vast number of teenage girls are used for commercial sexual purposes every year, often ending up with their health destroyed, victims of various STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) or HIV/AIDS. Teenage girls are sought with the expectation that clients will not be exposed to HIV. But prostitutes do not have bargaining power. That belongs to the customers, it has confirmed almost impossible to give prostitutes bargaining power in terms of condoms. Teenage prostituted can be raped, beaten, emotionally abused, tortured, and even killed by pimps, brothel owners or clients. Some have been trafficked from one country to another. Moreover, teenage prostitutes are frequently treated as criminals by law enforcement and judicial authorities, rather than as teenage girls who are victims of sexual exploitation.

    AIDS Researcher Ms. Muslem Khan Bulon said poverty, trafficking & HIV/AIDS are interrelated; especially women and girls are trafficking for use of prostitution. Teenage girls trafficked to India are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases(STDs), including HIV/AIDS, because of India is the second largest HIV/AIDS infected country in the world, It is estimated that half of the girls in Mumbai brothels who are under the age of 18 years have been infected with HIV.

    Most of trafficking girls or women would face several physical & sexual abuses. When a girl or women newly enrolls a sex industry, she tries to safe herself heard & soul, but most of the time they couldn’t free her. A survey conducted by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation that the girls forced (trafficking) into the brothels do not want to return to their homes once they are into it for more than one year. Such girls believe, they would be victim of social stigma and face discrimination from the society. They also believe, their family would suffer several social taboo, self-respect, and social-dignity.

    AIDS researcher Mohammad Khairul Alam said, “Trafficking in girls and women is warmly linked to movements in search of employment opportunities. Poverty and gender discrimination make girls and women more vulnerable to traffickers and buyers. The traffickers are not accompanying the women while crossing the border. So it is difficult for the border police to arrest them. There are some female members in the trafficking gang, which helps to hide their identity. Initiatives to reduce poverty and promote gender equality are therefore of direct importance in efforts to combat trafficking.”

    Mahmuda Begum
    Udayan High School
    Dhaka, Bangladesh


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