Malawi and the UN on Friday signed a $14 million (about K4.6 billion) agreement to protect rights of gays and prostitutes in ensuring that their access to HIV treatment is scaled up and uninhibited.
The HIV and Aids Critical Enablers Joint Programme was signed at the UN offices in Lilongwe on Friday by the Principal Secretary for Nutrition, HIV and Aids in the Office of the President and Cabinet Edith Nkawa and Mahimbo Mdoe, the UN resident representative who led the UN team to the ceremony, witnessed by representatives of the Malawi Government and heads of UN agencies.
The programme comes after a UN-supported assessment of the current legal, regulatory and policy framework found issues, including stigma, low access to justice and laws that create barriers to the response to HIV and Aids.
The assessment calls for the creation of an HIV specific law that protects and promotes rights in the context of HIV and Aids, review of laws such as the Employment Act, the Public Service Act and Regulation, and the Penal Code, among others.
“The UN aims to ensure that the national response to HIV is evidence-informed, coordinated, sustainably resourced, and efficient and based on a supportive legal and policy environment by 2016,” said Mdoe.
Nkawa said the joint programme will help Malawi in its quest to attain the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS II) targets on HIV by 2016.
However, Nkawa could not ably answer what government will do to enable gays and prostitutes to access care when homosexuality is illegal in Malawi.
But she said government will continue providing universal HIV treatment without looking at
factors such as sexual orientation.