Mchinji — A report by Art & Global Health Centre Africa has revealed that young health workers, especially females have negative attitude towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) people when they seek medical assistance.
The revelation has been made recently during a District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting when Umunthu Health Care Workers Project presented its midline report.
Umunthu Project Programmes Manager, Rodger Phiri, said the project is informed by reports that there are disparities in access to health services by LGBTI
He said the project came in as a mind-set changer for health workers in the country's health facilities.
"We have been engaging front line health service providers to appreciate the issues with LGBTI in Malawi especially on their access to health.
"We are engaging health service providers to address the gaps in access to health services by LGBTI persons from the lens of umunthu, an African philosophical concept of humanity," he said.
The project focuses on interconnectedness and relatedness of humanity and that all people are all one.
Phiri said the revelation that young health workers are more likely to shun attending to LGBTI persons is shocking given how receptive the modern generation is.
"It has been an interesting finding to us. We were also surprised as to why that is the case, especially younger female health service providers. So, the project aims at changing the mind set of these health workers toward LGBTI people.
A survey done before the project showed that about 15 percent of health workers said they would treat LGBTI people and after the project, an assessment showed that about 88 percent were comfortable treating an LGBTI person.
Phiri, therefore, said Umunthu is there to make health access for everyone.
However, reacting to the report, Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) Advocacy Manager, Rodney Chalera was adamant to adopt the findings.
He questioned the credibility of the findings and the tools used to develop the survey.
"From my experience working with health workers on LGBTI, the young health workers are more responsive to providing services to LGBTI people than older groups. This is because the younger generation is more exposed to more information on topical issues than the older generation," he said.
Art & Global Health Centre Africa is running Umunthu Health Care Workers Project in Chikwawa, Zomba, Nkhotakota, Dedza, Thyolo, Phalombe and Mchinji districts and is yet to roll it out to Mangochi later this year.