GOBABIS: Namibian First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba has slammed the conduct of some churches and traditional healers who incite patients on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to stop taking their medicine, noting that such practises hamper the delivery of health services to the public.
Speaking during a consultative meeting with traditional and church leaders on maternal health here on Saturday, Pohamba said it was high time such misconceptions are eliminated from society as they negatively affect health provision.
“It has been noted that there are some churches and traditional healers who falsely claim they can cure AIDS. They interfere with the anti-retroviral treatment by instructing people to throw away their medicine.
Let us protect out people from such lies and any other type of interferences with their treatment,” she said.
Pohamba said there is currently no cure for HIV and AIDS, and as such the community, especially patients who are on anti-retroviral medicine (ARVs) should not be misled by such false promises of a cure for the virus through traditional herbs and roots.
Emphasising the importance of the ART programme, the First Lady said Government has gone out of its way to make sure everyone needing ARVs is catered for, free of charge, in an effort to prolong the lives of such citizens, despite the high costs of the drugs.
“We need to support the efforts of Government, especially in the prevention of new HIV infections to newborn babies. Let us aim for an HIV-free generation tomorrow. It is possible,” she noted.
The First Lady, a registered nurse by profession, said it was high time Namibians cease practices of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
She said the community should accept such people with open arms, as “we are all affected by HIV/AIDS”.
“These people need the inspiration of all of us to positively live with HIV/AIDS and properly take their medicine for the rest of their lives. They need our support to ensure that they do not take the medicine on empty stomachs,” the First Lady noted.
Pohamba was in the Omaheke Region to sensitise the community through their respective traditional and religious leaders on issues pertaining to maternal health.