The practice of dispensing ARV’s to patients in secluded Infectious Disease Control Clinics (IDCC) will soon come to a stop and HIV positive patients will be given their medication in public dispensaries like all other patients. This was revealed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kolaatamo Malefho, during a recent presentation to the public accounts committee (PAC).
Dr Malefho was responding to a question from Kanye North Member of Parliament, Kentse Rammidi, who asked if the common practice of dispensing ARV’s to patients in isolation was perpetuating stigmatization. In response, Dr Malefho said government has decided not to dispense ARV medication in isolation.
“ARV patients will no longer be given their medication separately. We are moving away from dispensing ARV’s in IDCC and we will start dispensing them like any other medication to avoid stigmatization,” he said.
Still at the hearing, it also emerged that tuberculosis patients are made to sleep with windows open in tuberculosis wings of most hospitals, even during chilly weather conditions. Dr Malefho defended the move, arguing that the decision to always keep windows in TB wards open was taken to deter new tuberculosis infections, after it became evident that most health officers working in TB wards were contracting the disease. He confirmed that windows in TB wards are left open even during chilly weather, exposing TB patients to the biting cold.
“We made a decision after most health personnel deployed to TB wards contracted tuberculosis. The windows are opened to increase circulation of air and reduce the possibility of health officers contracting tuberculosis,” he said.
Dr Malefho was responding to another question from Rammidi, who expressed concern at allegations that patients are made to sleep in the cold because windows are never closed in TB wards. Rammidi also wanted to know why hospitals did not provide enough blankets to patients even after leaving the windows open.