FIRST Vice-Chairman of the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT), Dr Bishop Valentino Mokiwa, has called for legislation against stigma for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The legislation, as envisaged by Bishop Mokiwa, would protect victims of stigma at work places, schools and the general public. Dr Mokiwa, also the Head of the Anglican Church in Tanzania, made the remarks while officiating at a seminar for pastors on how to educate the public on various social economic issues.
"I for one consider people who dishonour others because of HIV/Aids or any other disease as mad people. There should be a punishment for people who stigmatize," the prelate said in Dar es Salaam. Some 30 pastors from CCT member churches are undergoing training on how to prepare radio and television programmes which will eventually make them educate the public on spiritual, social and economic issues.
"Stigma is a disease and a result of self-denial, why do you stigmatize someone while you are not sure of your status," he queried. He said the church is a part of the society and thus it cannot distance itself from challenges such as diseases and poverty among others.
"Even in the Holy Scriptures, Jesus is on record of having healed people with leprosy, and this was at the time that people suffering from the disease were highly stigmatized," the cleric noted.