Citing Abuse of Assistance Program, Malawian Government Suspends Extra Monthly Payments to HIV-Positive Civil Employees
As a result of "gross abuse" of a program aimed at assisting HIV-positive government employees, a Malawi government official on Saturday announced that the country will suspend extra monthly payments to such workers, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/11). Instead, civil servants who previously used the monthly $35 payment to purchase more food will be given a food handout. The new policy is part of a government review of its HIV policy and how best to fund it, BBC News reports (BBC News, 10/13).
Mary Shaba -- principal secretary for nutrition, HIV and AIDS -- said that the "suspension is due to gross abuse of the facility." She added that some HIV-negative workers were claiming to be HIV-positive so that they could receive the extra payments. "Some people who are not HIV positive have been cheating to access the facility," which was aimed at improving nutrition to help "people to respond to treatment quickly," Shaba said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/11). She added that the recommendation now "is to give them cooking oil, some eggs as support." HIV-positive employees also will be educated about the virus and receive advice about safer sex, BBC News reports (BBC News, 10/13).
According to AFP/Yahoo! News, Malawi has 120,000 government employees who receive monthly salaries of about $70; approximately 38,000 of those workers are HIV-positive. In addition, many Malawians are unable to meet their nutritional requirements, which amount to about $40 annually (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/11).