By Tapiwa Mutizamhepo
The National Aids Council, NAC says it committed to ensuring that all communities and minority societal groups are catered for when organizing and putting up HIV and AIDS mitigation strategies to ensure that the goal to eradicate HIV and AIDS in the country, by 2030 is achieved.
Speaking at a handover ceremony of HIV and AIDS educational material worth US$54 000.00 produced in various formats such as braille, Large print and Audio and Video format to the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped, NASCOH at a local hotel in Harare, this week, NAC Vice Board Chairperson Miss Beatrice Tonhodzayi Ngondo said the production of the material was a response to concerns that had been raised by people living with disabilities that they were being left out in HIV and AIDS and other diseases awareness campaigns.
She said her organisation saw it fit to produce the material, with the Global Fund to ensure that communities, including people living with disabilities are equipped with relevant information on the disease.
Miss Ngondo added that people living with disabilities tended to bear worse challenges than other non-disabled members of society, with the situation being compounded if they are living with the HIV virus as it is difficult to access amenities such as testing and counselling centres, hospital and clinics among other crucial service providers.
“Today we are gathered here to distribute some HIV and AIDS educational material to people living with disabilities who have been complaining that they are being excluded from HIV and AIDS mitigation programs, As NAC we produced these materials to ensure that everyone is included in the programs that we roll out to combat the HIV and AIDS scourge,”
“We appreciate the fact that people with disabilities bear worse challenges than other members of society due to some institutional and societal barriers within our communities and hope this gesture will go a long way in bridging the gap that had existed between mainstream society and people living with disabilities”. We appreciate the fact that they may counter challenges in accessing some very important services such as getting tested or medical service”, added Miss Ngondo.
Miss Ngondo added that her organisation will produce some more material for distribution to people with disabilities before the end of the year.
“I would like to promise that we will try and produce some more material for distribution before the end of this year”, she said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Guest of Honour Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Aldrin Musiiwa hailed NAC for the gesture adding that people with disabilities are an integral part of society whose needs should taken cognizant of.
He said as a Ministry and Government they are committed to seeing that people living with disabilities have a quality healthy life.
“I would like to commend NAC for a job well done, today they have remembered a very important group of our society who also have needs and concerns that should be responded to. It our Ministry’s and indeed Government commitment to see that disabled people are afforded healthy and quality lives and are included in all national programs, “said Dr Musiiwa.
In his acceptance speech the chairman of NASCOH, an Umbrella body of more than 70 PWD organisations associations, Mr Zhou thanked NAC and the Deputy Minister for the production and availing of the educational material to PWDs.
He said the move was testimony that mainstream society was slowly warming up to the realization that PWDs are also sexually active and hence are also prone to sexually transmitted Infections and diseases hence the need to avail information to them.
He further assured the gathering that the material will be distributed countrywide and urged the production of more copies saying the material was not enough to cater for more than 1.9 million people with disabilities in the country.