The Herald (Harare)

10 July 2012

Zimbabwe: HIV, Aids Must Remain Topical - Charamba

The HIV and Aids pandemic remains a national emergency and people should treat it in that light, the Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity Mr George Charamba has said.

Mr Charamba was speaking last week at a capacity building workshop in Kadoma organised by the National Aids Council for editors.

He said issues concerning HIV remained in the periphery, yet they affected the core fabric of social and economic standing.

"HIV has been relegated to the periphery of issues yet it remains a national emergency," said Mr Charamba.

"With over 1 200 people dying each week from Aids related illnesses, HIV should still be topical.

"Other attractive topics have taken over, yes climate change is an issue, but that should not be at the expense of HIV and Aids which has decimated families. No one can say they have not been affected in a way."

Mr Charamba said it was worrying that orphans were on the increase, but news reporting did not reflect this as an emergency.

He called on all news organisations to form health desks as doing so would mean health and HIV in particular remained on the national agenda.

"If each day newspapers, radio and TV carried an article on HIV and general health, this could bring positive change," said Mr Charamba.

"It appears we got comfortable and hence the reporting in this very topical issue has been scaled down, which is wrong.

"I, therefore, appeal to you editors to make HIV an attractive topic. Cover the issues around HIV as much as you cover any disaster. An accident killing 15 people is regarded as a national disaster, so why not HIV which continues to decimate the population."

NAC's Monitoring and Evaluation director Mr Amon Mpofu said over 80 percent of hospital bed occupations were due to HIV related illnesses.

"This means that HIV still remains an issue, which must be treated with the emergency it deserves," he said.

President Robert Mugabe declared HIV and Aids a national emergency in 2002.

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