The Blantyre First Grade Magistrate’s Court has ordered Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) to investigate a matter where a woman accused a medical practitioner of publicising her HIV status.
The medical practitioner, Dr Albert Mkandawire, who was working as Nkhata Bay district health officer (DHO), has also been ordered to pay compensation to the woman (name withheld) for the damage caused.
Magistrate Kondani Chinangwa made the ruling in March and advised MCM to report back to the court about their findings on the matter within 90 days, according to Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula.
Mvula, who said MCM was yet to report back to court, said the magistrate court when it made its ruling referred the matter about compensation to be paid to the woman to the High Court for assessment.
MCM chairperson professor John Chisi said in an interview on Wednesday that the council was yet to hear Dr Mkandawire’s side of the story, saying the woman was making serious allegations and reporting to different authorities, including Ministry of Health.
But the woman in an interview said she felt let down by the council after it failed to help her and eventually learning that Dr Mkandawire is outside Malawi, and working.
“My little knowledge on the issue is that he cannot be allowed to practise outside Malawi without approval or permit by the Medical Council of Malawi. How did they allow him to leave?” she questioned.
According to court documents we have seen under Civil Case Number 803, the woman applied, under Section 5/6 of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, for an interim protection from the Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court in Blantyre against Dr Mkandawire.
The woman applied for the court’s relief to prohibit Dr Mkandawire from publicising her HIV status, physically and verbally abusing her, interfering with her friends on social media and causing or encouraging another person from engaging in similar acts.
Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust (Wlsa-Malawi) filed the application on behalf of the woman on March 9 2016.
In its March 14 2016 ruling, the court ordered that starting from March 9 until it directs otherwise, Dr Mkandawire “shall not engage” in publicising her sero-status, interfering with her friends on social media and preventing her from going to work comfortably.
According to the MCM report we have seen, the woman, upon a friend’s recommendation, met Dr Mkandawire at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre for medical assistance.
During consultation, Dr Mkandawire suspected her of having tuberculosis (TB) on top of the existing HIV status, alleges the report.
The doctor then allegedly inquired if the woman had a boyfriend to relieve her of stress to which she replied that her husband died in 2010.
Later, according to MCM, the two started a romantic relationship for two years until Dr Mkandawire was posted to Nkhata Bay District Hospital.