Chichewa HIV treatment literacy training manual launched

By Sarah Munthali

Just Associates Southern Africa (JASS SNA), a global feminist movement building and strengthening organisation, on Thursday launched a Chichewa HIV treatment literacy manual.

The manual, developed in collaboration with Our Bodies Our lives (OBOL) movement, Coalition of Women Living with HIV and Aids (COWLA) and Malawi Network of Religious Leaders living or personally affected by HIV and Aids (MANERELA+), aims at meeting needs of women affected by HIV and AIDS, enabling them to make informed decisions about their health and assert their rights in treatment options.

Speaking during the launch, Regional Director for JASS Southern Africa, Phumi Mthethwa described the launch of the manual as a milestone in that issues related to HIV treatment can be communicated in a language spoken in Malawi.

launched a Chichewa HIV treatment literacy manua
Launching a Chichewa HIV treatment literacy manual

“We launched the English manual in 2019 and we are launching the Chichewa manual now. Having heard women’s experiences at community level, we want to ensure that HIV treatment issues are communicated in a language they understand,” Mthethwa said.

The manual covers three key thematic areas of treatment, adherence and understanding of medical issues.

Mthethwa said HIV treatment does not guarantee health and well-being; hence the manual also covers issues to do with gender and preparedness measures in relation to disasters such as cyclones and other weather effects.

She, therefore, said government should provide adequate health care to HIV positive women by ensuring that hospitals are functioning and have adequate medicines.

According to Malawi Country Coordinator for JASS, Sibongile Chibwe Singini, the manual addresses women’s holistic health needs, thereby enabling them to advocate for comprehensive healthcare solutions.

“The manual, the first-ever grassroots feminist treatment literacy manual in Malawi, is a testament to the dedication and vision of OBOL women. It is designed to meet the diverse needs of women affected by HIV and AIDS among other functions,” said Singini.

Northern Region Coordinator for OBOL, Tiwonge Gondwe said most women in rural communities experience knowledge gaps on HIV/AIDS issues, hence the manual will help bridge such gaps, through the provision of relevant information.

In his remarks, HIV Care and Treatment Officer in the Ministry of Health, Brown Chiwandira commended JASS SNA for initiatives aimed at supporting women living with HIV and AIDS in the country, saying the launch of the manual complements government’s efforts of enabling access to information.

In Malawi, JASS SNA has actively supported OBOL women’s movement for over 15 years in advocating for accountability and improved healthcare for HIV positive individuals.