Elisa Mussuei, a health activist at the Kutenga Association in Maputo, warns that the concentration of all resources in the fight against Covid-19 can create high rates of contamination and deaths by HIV in Mozambique.
“There is a chance of HIV intensification due to the lack of awareness”, warns the 25-year-old activist.
In just a year of pandemic, Mozambique recorded about 200,000 positive cases (more than 70% of which correspond to the number of people recovered in the first two weeks of August) and the death of about 2,000 people (by excess).
“There are a number of advantages that we no longer have because of the concentration of efforts in a single evil, which has made us forget other evils that affect our society”, Mussuei says.
Elisa regrets the fact that she cannot go out to raise awareness among communities about the need to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible diseases (STDs).
Therefore, the activist defends that the presidential decree has to enable awareness-raising meetings in communities, where Kutenga Association and other associations have been working.
“We are not talking about meetings of 20 people. Even if there are five, we know that the information will reach others”, she adds.
For Mussuei, “people always need to be sensitized. If we stay for a very long time, they will forget the prevention. It is possible to face a disaster in the post-pandemic period”, defends the activist.
She also affirms that it is understandable that the government wants to avoid the spread of Covid-19, but she believes that there should be “consistency in the statements of the President, as well as in the statements of the minister of health, when they say that, despite Covid-19, the response to other diseases should continue.”
Mussuei adds that HIV is a pandemic that has been living for much longer and “to these days it forces patients to take antiretroviral medication and not to abandon treatment. There are many restrictions. It has been very difficult to work, even with the local leaders, especially after the presidential decree”, reveals Elisa Mussuei.
In another development, she says that she has been trying, through activism, to ensure that the rights of patients reach everyone.
“My dream is to see all people with the right to health. My greatest desire, in the work I have been developing, is to see that patients know their rights and duties in health centers or hospitals. I would also like adolescents and young people more informed about sexual and reproductive health. Finally, but not least, I would like to see greater support for HIV testing services.”
She also wants to see health professionals more aware of their responsibility.
Mussuei has been practicing activism in the Health Centers of Polana Caniço and Primeiro de Maio.
Her association works in different areas of Maputo City (Ka Maxaquene, Ka Mpfumu, Ka Munukwana), Manhiça district (Maputo Province) and Gaza Province (Xai-Xai City, Chongoene and Chicualacuala).
For Elisa, the work of activists is extremely important, because it is personalized.
“In the community, everyone knows each other. Having someone you know to help you as a patient is nice and more comfortable.”
For the source, it is important and better to watch patients locally, so that they feel more comfortable.
“It is important that we focus on Mozambicans living with HIV. This number increases with each passing day.”
The activist also states that the long distances traveled by patients constitute a barrier to the search for treatment. In addition, transportation costs, long waiting times at the health center, also constitute a barrier for patients.
On the other hand, as a way of reducing the work burden of health units, the activist contributes in the improvement of quality treatment for HIV patients.
“The ongoing treatment of patients with HIV is one of Kutenga’s highest priorities in supporting the Government in the implementation of the HIV program in this country. One of Kutenga’s strategies is also community engagement, working directly with local leaders.”