Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mzuzu Police gets capacity building boost on HIV&AIDS

By Judith Kumwenda
90 police officers from Mzuzu Police Station have under gone training in HIV and AIDS in relation to security and safety. The rationale for the training was to ensure that the Police officers had the accurate knowledge and skills on HIV & AIDS. The knowledge acquired included basic information on HIV & AIDS, its transmission, prevention, mitigation and other HIV and AIDS related issues handled and encountered in the police Officers line of duty.
Mzuzu Police earlier submitted a proposal to ADRA Malawi seeking capacity building on matters of HIV & AIDS via the Victim Support Unit. ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) responded by funding the training sessions which involved 90 police officers. The trained police officers are expected to share the knowledge acquired with the rest of the officers at the station. Mzuzu Police Station has 267 officers.
After the training, one of the participants Violet Kabondo, who is also Child Protection Desk Officer at Mzuzu Police Station,   narrated how she found herself exposed to HIV and quickly sought Post Exposure Prophylaxis treatment within the recommended 72 hours as learnt from the training. She thanked ADRA Malawi for the gesture and said that the training she acquired would go a long way preventing HIV and guaranteeing peace of mind.
Violet Kabondo-Child protection Desk Officer holding  a bottle of her Post Exposure Prophylaxis(PEP) treatment.
Speaking in an interview Mzuzu Police AIDS Coordinator SR Chalemera disclosed that the other outcome of the training was that the number of police officers who have disclosed their HIV status has increased from 11 to 20. In separate interview, Mzuzu Police Victim Support unit SR Flora Njawiti said that the training has given her enough strength to reach out to couples on importance of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT). 
The vicinity of Mzuzu Police Station lies on Vipya Plateau surrounded by lowly hills, such as Choma, Mombwe, Kaningina, enyezini, Luhomero and Chiungu and It has seven police Units. The population size of the area is 273, 447. The core duties of Police officers in Mzuzu includes safeguarding the freedoms and rights of all people, maintaining law and order, protecting life and property, preventing crime, investigating and detecting crime and bringing all offenders to justice. However, gender based violence, especially sexually related ones are among the reported crimes on the increase, exposing the victims to the risk of contracting HIV.
The ASC program has also supported similar activities to Police Stations in all the program targeted districts.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and societal change in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Machinga and Mulanje.

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