Friday, July 02, 2010

Chief Magode implores leaders to lead by example in VCT

Chief Magode implores leaders to lead by example in VCT
By Florence Bupe in Lundazi
Thu 01 July 2010, 15:30 CAT

SENIOR Chief Magodi of the Tumbuka people in Lundazi District has implored leaders to take an exemplary step in the fight against HIV and AIDS by going for voluntary counselling and testing.

Speaking at his palace during the National Voluntary and Counselling (VCT) Day which is commemorated annually on June 30, chief Magodi, who spoke in Tumbuka, said it was important for leaders at all levels to encourage their subjects to know their HIV status by taking the lead.

“HIV testing is a difficult step to undertake but it is very important. I’ve had meetings with various organisations in my chiefdom and I encourage everyone to go for VCT, giving myself as an example,” he said.

Chief Magodi was recently hospitalised for high blood pressure but made the decision to undergo voluntary counselling and testing.

He lamented that low literacy levels in the district had posed a challenge in addressing the HIV scourge.

“I’ve been trying to sensitise my subjects so that we work together in promoting the message on HIV and AIDS, but I should say it has been very difficult because most of the villagers are illiterate. However, we are still trying and the message is slowly going across,” he said.

He encouraged his people to take advantage of the mobile VCT centre in his chiefdom to know their HIV status.

And chief Magodi counselled Zambians to be productive and desist from abusing alcohol as it had serious health and social implications.

He said gone are the days when chieftainship was associated with alcohol consumption.

“As chiefs, we sometimes are careless. Usually we are busy but sometimes we are not and you find that we drink during our free time,” chief Magodi said. “...99 per cent of all chiefs drink, but they should realise that we are supposed to be role models and should lead the younger generation by example.”

Chief Magodi disclosed that he was instructed during his hospitalisation to stop drinking and had since quit taking alcohol.

Meanwhile, United Nations resident coordinator Macleod Nyirongo observed that the HIV prevalence rate in Zambia was still high, standing at 14.3 per cent of the productive population.

“The overall prevalence rate in the country stands at 14.3 per cent, and this is still one of the highest rates in the world. Many people still don’t know their status and there are new infections every day,” he said.

Nyirongo stressed the need to strengthen counselling and testing systems, and also uphold ethics of confidentiality to encourage more people to undergo HIV testing.

Meanwhile, hundreds of villagers scrambled to be tested at the mobile VCT centre set up at Khulikuli in chief Magodi’s area.

This was after Nyirongo and other officials gave their speeches and encouraged people to undergo testing.

This year’s VCT Day was commemorated under the theme ‘Know your HIV status and access care and support’.

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