Sinda district health medical officer Dr Benard Chimungu says his office records show that out of the 11,000 local people who tested HIV positive, only 6,000 are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).

Speaking when commemorating world AIDS day at Kasamba primary school, Friday, under the theme “Run the last mile, leaving no one behind”, Dr Chimungu challenged the communities to ensure that they got tested instead of putting the entire community at risk.

“This disease we are here for is not a joke but a serious challenge that we need to address. For your own information as the district we have about 11,000 plus persons who tested HIV positive and the rule is to enrol them on ART, but unfortunately out of this 11,000 people only 6000 are on ART according to our records. Meaning that 5000 are within our communities living with an untreated virus, a situation which risks everyone of us because HIV can kill all of us if we don’t join hands,” he explained.

He also expressed sadness that some communities were discouraging their children from getting HIV drugs, a situation which he said was killing the innocent souls.

Speaking earlier, Kasamba health officer Grenda Sianatowe told the gathering that communities shunned drugs once tested positive.

“Indeed AIDS is a condition which is affecting each and every one of us in one way or the other. Guest of Honor, it’s quiet saddening that even with free ART provision which is readily available, we are still experiencing death related cases to AIDS in our communities. Ee have babies who are denied the treatment by their caretakers not forgetting poor adherence to treatment by some people while others even stop taking the lifelong drugs, a situation which challenge the goal of the ministry to have zero new infections by 2030,” she said.

Meanwhile, the district commissioner Paradious Sakala, expressed sadness that some communities believed that traditional healers would cure HIV/AIDS.

“It makes a sad reading that we still have people who cant accept the condition they are found in. It’s sad that we are still taking our relatives to Witchdoctors who have in turn continued to destroy and bring confusions in our families and communities, when health services are really available,” he narrated

He challenged people to know their statuses and to start ART when found to be living with the virus.

And Neighbourhood Health centre chairperson Frank Banda told government to realise that community volunteers do a great job which needed to be supported.

“Am asking government to remember and think of community volunteers who are doing a great job because the district can’t have data without volunteers. The province can’t have quality data without a volunteer so we appeal to government to remember and support us and reduce the challenges we are facing such as transport and other needs for quality operation,” said Banda.

Meanwhile, Chile chief Mbangombe who was represented by induna Million Vincent Sakala called on government to supply more drugs to rural health centres which were closer to the people.

He also called on government to see to it that agricultural programs were monitored effectively to avoid hunger next year.

“It’s good to have such platforms and we appeal to you the government to provide enough drugs to these clinics because if drugs are not enough of whichever illness then success won’t be achieved. And we appeal to your government to see to it that agricultural activities are well monitored because mostly army worms hit us a lot but your interventions will help us as communities,” said Mbangombe’s representative.