Nkhata Bay acting nutrition HIV and Aids officer Joshua Nyirenda has expressed concern over the increasing number of anti-retroviral therapy (ARV) defaulters in the district.
He said this on Friday at Chihame II Ground in group village head Mchingalombo in Traditional Authority Kabunduli during the commemoration of the district’s World Aids Day under the theme Communities Make a Difference: End HIV and Aids by 2030.
Nyirenda said half of the total number of people living with HIV stopped collecting drugs from the district’s health facilities.
“Out of the 10 070 people living with HIV in Nkhata Bay, 45.4 percent stopped collecting drugs at our district health centres while others are collecting from somewhere,” he said.
Nyirenda also said one percent of the defaulters completely stopped medication.
“Most of the times people stop taking medication because of religious beliefs. But we are saying after being prayed for by the religious leaders, let us stick to medication.
“God would love to be worshiped by healthy people,” he said.
Nyirenda then appealed to traditional and religious leaders and guardians to help the district’s health office to end the practice.
Nkhata Bay District Council vice-chairperson Cyria Nyamwera asked people living with HIV to continue taking drugs to save their lives.
“If we register many defaulters, it won’t be good for the district and the country as a whole.
“We have to do something to ensure there is nobody who defaults taking ARVs,” he said.
An Anglican Church pastor based in the area, the Reverend Kennedy Chilowa, said people should go to hospital for verification if they believe to have been healed through prayers and not just stop taking medication.