Nkhotakota — As Government is grappling with drug pilferage in public hospitals, some concerned sex workers at Nkhotakota boma have questioned the alleged act of selling condoms that some workers at the district's hospital are doing.
They say the act is forcing them to engage in unsafe sex.
The disgruntled sex workers made the revelation at the end of a week-long workshop on HIV/AIDS prevention, cervical cancer and tuberculosis (TB) screening held in Nkhata Bay recently.
Marriam Mwaimba, a sex worker at one of the renowned drinking places in the district alleged that health workers from the district hospital sell condoms to sex workers at as low as K10 each and K500 per carton.
"We go to the hospital to collect condoms but an official from there tells us that they are no longer distributed free of charge. Sometimes, he comes here to sell government labelled condoms in our hostels," she said.
She said the matter has been reported to health authorities at the hospital. But she added the situation has not improved on the ground as some retail shops are selling the commodity.
But reacting to the allegations, the district hospitals' spokesperson Justice Malunga, down played the claims saying his office distributes the condoms to drinking joints free of charge.
He said there may be imposters who roam around drinking places selling the condoms without their knowledge. He has however, promised to investigate the matter.
Acting Nkhotakota District AIDS coordinator Derick Mwenda, said the act is detrimental as it will retard an ambitious treatment target to help end AIDS epidemic by 2020 dubbed 90-90-90.
"The current goal of the national strategic plan is to have 90 per cent of all people living with HIV know their status and those who know their HIV status should be initiated on ART.
And those on ART should ensure that they keep their viral load suppressed.
"There are a number of strategies that have been put in place in the national strategic plan have and use of condoms is to promote the use both male and female condoms. So, if those condoms that are supposed to be distributed free of charge means that those sex workers who are more vulnerable and whose prevalence rate is high, will not be able to access them hence put the response plan in jeopardy," said Mwenda.
He said together with stakeholders, his office will institute an inquiry into the matter to establish those perpetuating the act.
Meanwhile, the district has an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 5 per cent down from 12 per cent a development attributed to response plans spelt out in the national strategic plan.