The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has urged Malawians to speak out against discrimination in the country.
On March 1 every year the world commemorates Zero Discrimination Day and this year UNAIDS is calling for zero discrimination in health settings.
“Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, to live free from discrimination, coercion and abuse,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
Sidibé added that discrimination don’t just hurt individuals, it hurts everyone, whereas welcoming and embracing diversity in all its forms brings benefits for all.
“Health-care settings should be safe and supportive environments. It is unacceptable that discrimination is inhibiting access to care today. Eliminating discrimination in health-care settings is critical and we must demand that it become a reality,” said Sidibé.
According to the statement, data from 50 countries from people living with HIV stigma index show that one in eight people living with HIV report being denied health-care.
The statement further reveals that around 60 percent of European/European Economic Area countries report that stigma and discrimination among health-care professionals remains a barrier to the provision of adequate HIV prevention services for men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.
Discrimination has many forms; from racial or religious discrimination to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and bullying at school or at work.
According to UNAIDS, only three out of every ten countries have equal numbers of girls and boys attending upper secondary school.
It also revealed that people living with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be denied health care than other people.