Zambia threatens to shut down private centres over compulsory HIV testing policy

Zambia threatens to shut down private centres over compulsory HIV testing policy

According to reports, the Zambian health ministry has threatened to shut down private health centres that refuse to implement a recently announced government policy of compulsory HIV and Aids testing, says a report.

According to the state-owned Daily Mail, the move had angered some human rights campaigners.

This came a day after President Edgar Lungu reportedly announced that the southern African nation was going to conduct compulsory HIV & Aids testing as part of his government plans of eradicating the diseases by 2030.

Lungu said that compulsory HIV and Aids testing was a government policy that was non-negotiable.

“I must admit that there were some colleagues who felt that this policy would infringe on human rights but there [is] no one [who] has the right to take away somebody’s life. Just the same way we don’t consult you for consent when we are testing for Malaria, we will go ahead and test you for HIV and we will counsel you and if you are positive, we will commence you on treatment,” Lungu was quoted as saying.

The newly introduced government policy was reportedly against the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unaids that promoted voluntary counselling and testing.

The country’s health minister Chitalu Chilufya said that the government was determined to make the policy work, as local health centres were overflowing with HIV cases.

“Why are people afraid of knowing their status? It’s better you know so that if you are positive, medication is given to preserve your life,” Chilufya was quoted as saying.

He said about 81% of admissions at the country’s biggest referral hospital were HIV related cases.

Chilufya maintained that the government policy was inline with the joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids which stated that 90% of people should know their status by 2020.

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