Is Malawi killing 30,000 HIV positive babies?

30-Thousand State approved Murders? Mandatory HIV testing for pregnant mothers…..

Capital Punishment, popularly referred to as death sentence is provided for in the Laws of Malawi. Since 1993, no one has been hanged, despite having many people sentenced to death. Former President Bakili Muluzi found it against his conscience to sign a death warrant. President Bingu wa Mutharika too is yet to sign one. As a Catholic, I doubt if he will during his reign. Effectively, the statute is available to warn would be perpetrators of evil to know that they can be sent to gallows. However, the State approved mothers still continue in the Health sector. I have as a Journalist refused to make my stand known on abortion as a right to the woman or the right to life for the unborn child. Similarly, I will never share my views on Capital punishment despite being a good Christian. But for the last two years, two close friends became widowers at the age of 27 and 31 respectively when their wives died on delivery. The happy occasion turned into sad funeral services. The other woman lost blood while the other one, no doctor was available during delivery and complications arose. The two were educated and well informed women who attended all the required ante-natal sessions. They took the dosages for malaria as prescribed by doctors and ate and lived a healthy life. Add their deaths to the many in the villages who loose life after the Traditional birth attendant forgot to remove the placenta or just infection from unhealthy delivery surroundings. The State actually has indirectly approved these preventable deaths, and over stretched doctors and nurses get the raw deal. Now with HIV and Aids, Malawi is delivering up to 30-thousand pregnancies of women with HIV. Only 18-percent that require Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission through Nevarapine and other combinations are able to access it. UNICEF and the National Media Institute-NAMISA Malawi have launched a joint programme to increase awareness on PMMCT, but the reality on the ground is different. If 30-thousand are recognized cases mainly registered at health facilities, the figure could be alarmingly high if one considers the unregistered births estimated to be as high as 40 percent. Now is it not State sanctioned murder to allow over 30 thousand HIV positive children to be born into the world. Where are moralists and life campaigners to educate the many thousands of women ignorant of their sero status or under cultural obligations to produce offsprings that will not survive. I came across Government Minister who spoke eloquently about the proposed mandatory testing law for pregnant mothers. Immediately a well known Gender activist slammed the proposed law as very discriminatory towards women as they will be the only ones undergoing the testing as compared to their male counterparts. I found it strange as some of the laws such as on labour and pregnancies favours women only because they are the ones who biologically carry the pregnancy. I haven’t heard anyone scream that such laws are discriminatory. Then a Church NGO woke up the other day and denounced what is known as the Maputo protocol which advocates for a woman’s right to abortion. Having worked in the sexual reproductive health field for a relatively long period, I have come across cases of rape, cases of accidental pregnancies and more importantly pregnancy threatening the very existence of a mother. Therefore in a country where the majority of women do not necessarily have a say in terms of when to get pregnant nor have any capacity to negotiate for safe sex, I find the mandatory HIV testing law as one of those instruments that will empower women to make decisions over their sex lives. If they test positive, I know it will be difficult to break the news to a culturally or religiously shielded husband and survive marriage or encourage the husband to take a test. I envisage a scenario where many marriages will break or women will be forced to take the risk of having a pregnancy while HIV positive just to please the families.
I am hundred percent sure that the Church and other society moralists will wake up to the reality of life and try to follow Christ’s example in the sanctity of life. I have always found the story of a prostitute and healing on Sabbath as very critical to any one’s decision in advocating for or against human life.
If anyone of you has not sinned before take the first stone and stone the woman or if healing on Sabbath is a sin what good can one do on the preserved day. I know and have courted reaction to many moralists and church goers, but the truth is that today we need to evaluate if some of the things we oppose or accept preserve life, improve the quality of life or create 30-thousand sanctioned deaths. Let us debate the proposed law to protect the mothers and newly created life, and do not advocate creation of sickly and dead children. Or else what more is gross murder of 30-thousand children we allow to be born with HIV. Aluta continua


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