Health workers in Mangochi have pledged not to consider sexual orientation when delivering healthcare, a situation that has excited the gay community in the district.
The pledge came at the end of a two-day workshop organised to highlight issues affecting men who have sex with men (MSM) in accessing treatment.
The workshop, held last week at Andrews Hotel in the district, was organised by the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep).
“We are not policy-makers and even if these things clash with the will of God, if policy says we should give gays treatment, we will help them. But we will not force them to change their status,” said Pipiachi Gowelo, senior medical assistant at Chiponde Health centre, who was one of the participants at the workshop.
A homosexual who lives in the district, who did not want to be identified, welcomed the pledge from the health workers, saying he will now be able to seek treatment without fear of being labelled or reported to police.
HRCC programmes manager Timothy Mtambo said there is no justification for discriminating against gays in healthcare delivery.
“When [medical professionals] are graduating from school, they take an oath to help everyone, but the reality on the ground shows that many MSMs are denied healthcare because the health workers subject them to ridicule which forces them to go to herbalists or private clinics.
“I am a Christian too, but I don’t think I can be part of a church that preaches division. Gays are people too and they deserve healthcare like anyone else,” said Mtambo.