The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) on 1st December, 2017 joined the international community in commemorating World Aids Day with the main function taking place at its headquarters at Msonkho House in Blantyre.
Similar commemorations were also organized at MRA stations in Mzuzu and Lilongwe to mark World Aids Day under the theme “The Right to Health; Access to quality HIV prevention and treatment for all".
Guest of honour at the Blantyre commemorations, Fatch Valeta, Commissioner for Customs and Excise who was representing the Commissioner General, Tom Gray Malata, said a lot of progress has been made in the fight against HIV/Aids.
He said MRA has been complementing Malawi Government efforts to ensure that new HIV infections are reduced and that employees infected with HIV/Aids have access to quality treatment.
“Over the years, the Authority has taken deliberate efforts to ensure that employees, their spouses and dependents have access to quality HIV Prevention and treatment. In 2005, MRA took a bold step to launch its HIV and AIDS workplace programme. It is a programme that gives hope for members of staff, their families and dependents,” Valeta said.
He said the programme is multifaceted with three key pillars namely Prevention Programme, Care and Support Programme and Structural Framework Programme.
Valeta said it was pleasing to note that tremendous progress in fighting new infections and improving access to quality treatment has been made since MRA launched its HIV/Aids Workplace Programme 12 years ago.
“As we commemorate this year’s World Aids Day, we must remind ourselves to take responsibility of our health by protecting ourselves against HIV. I would also like to urge employees to seek HIV testing services because this is a gateway to prevention. For employees already on treatment, adherence is critical for viral load suppression,” he said.
He also appealed to employees to make some lifestyle changes to contain other equally serious illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.
“It is important to exercise regularly and it is for this reason that MRA engaged an expert to provide aerobics sessions here at Msonkho House but most if not all of the times I see only women exercising.
“I have never seen men doing aerobics. Remember, it’s free and all members of staff are encouraged to join and practice. It is also important to eat healthy foods by cutting down on saturated fat, salt and sugar and avoiding excessive drinking,” he said.
As part of the commemorations, MRA organized presentations on HIV/Aids, traditional dances, poem recitals, drama and tests on HIV and blood pressure.
By Wadza Otomani