Lumwana Mining Company (LMC) sustainability manager Christopher Mukala has warned that Zambia may not beat AIDS unless huge progress is made on improving the rights of women, girls and gender equality.

And Mukala says it is unacceptable that worldwide, HIV remains the leading cause of death for women aged between 15 and 49.

Mukala, who led the company’s team at this year’s World AIDS Day commemoration at Manyama Primary School in Lumwana, Wednesday, lamented that millions of poor women and girls were still denied the right to make decisions about their health and their bodies.

“Enough is enough! We need to bring power, equality and urgency to all young women and girls. We know that keeping girls in school reduces their risk of acquiring HIV, and we must empower all girls to stay in school,” Mukala said.

He observed that AIDS could only successfully be defeated if Zambians collectively intensified the fight for gender equality and ending Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

He also said Lumwana had stepped up efforts to ignite the local community to rise against HIV by creating platforms upon which residents could get tested and access the required support to prevent, detect and manage the virus.

“For instance, here in Lumwana, the activity has been conducted in four locations of the mine’s host community with a focus on cervical cancer screening to which HIV infection is a predisposing factor,” Mukala explained.

He further said that the other activities that had been staged were condom distribution and information education sharing through drama and presentations.

Mukala indicated that statistically, preliminary results indicated that out of 15 women screened for cervical cancer, three came out positive.

“Lumwana Mine drew the Ministry of Health, the district administration through the HIV task force and the non-governmental support for AIDS Free Era (SAFE)’s USAID-funded project to a collaborative platform to run the pre-WAD activities alongside GBV activism,” he narrated.

He noted that the world had spent billions of US dollars developing the fastest tests, the best treatment and new prevention technologies, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and other women-controlled methods.

“Now, let us put them to work, in every community, in every country. Today, I am calling on the Ministry of Health, every national AIDS programme, every community, to be bold and quick to get on the fast-track. Let us put science, innovation and technology to work for the people,” urged Mukala.

Meanwhile, Kalumbila District Council Chairperson Olix Kakwata called for a stop to stigma and discrimination of people living with the virus, together with a guarantee of human rights of all marginalized groups.

– Courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.