There have been claims by some religious leaders that they prayed for HIV patients and cured them. This is about to become history as the new and upcoming National HIV and Aids Policy will have a phrase that effectively bars religious figures from, among other things, claiming that they cured Aids or even administering such “cures.”
The issue came up during a week-long final review meeting of the policy which was held at Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel in Malawi’s lakeshore district of Salima last week.
Herbalists, diviners, seers, soothsayers and anyone who thinks they have a cure for HIV will also have to prove it first before being allowed to administer and claim as such.
“The policy will ensure that certified and proven forms of HIV and Aids, STIs [sexually transmitted infections] and TB [tuberculosis] medication, treatment and cure are administered to individuals, sections or groups of populations within the boundaries of Malawi,” reads a section of the policy.
Humprey Mdyetseni, deputy director responsible for planning, research and evaluation in the Department of Nutrition, HIV and Aids, said the policy seeks to deal with people who make claims about HIV cures without scientific proof.
“We were losing more people from such bogus claims where religious people pray for someone and claim that they have cured him. This policy will inform the law and criminalise such claims, medication and treatment unless there are proven,” said Mdyetseni.
But matters of faith are difficult to rubbish, so how will this be dealt with?
“Does one know that they have HIV via prayer? No, they know by getting tested at the hospital. Likewise, when there are claims of cure, it’s the hospital that should have the final say,” said Mdyetseni.