Health Dept and faith leaders join to fight HIV

2010-06-23 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department held a meeting yesterday with faith leaders to forge partnerships in the roll-out of medical male circumcisions.

The meeting, held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, strengthened the ties between the two parties in the fight against HIV and Aids.

Through training by the department, it is hoped that religious leaders will influence their followers to lead healthy lives and promote medical circumcision.

Said Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo, “As a strategic partner, we have come to meet faith leaders to enlist them as we scale up our maternal and neo-natal health and medical male circumcision.

“The leaders have advised us that a proper understanding and implementation of religion, from the standpoint of both knowledge and worship, can only be arrived at through physical health and life preservation.”

Among the issues discussed was the promotion of safe pregnancy and motherhood as well as medical male circumcision and HIV counselling and testing campaigns.

Faith leaders committed themselves to discourage teenage pregnancies because they pose a life risk for the mother and the baby.

“Faith leaders, together with the department, cherish a vision to reduce, if not eliminate, the high toll of maternal and neo-natal illnesses and death. Our chosen path is to realise this vision as a comprehensive societal initiative that responds to women’s needs from a rights-based approach,” said Dr Dlomo in a statement.

Department chaplain Pastor Sylvester Cele said religious denominations, irrespective of their teachings, have a role to play in the fight against HIV and other infections.

“Whether we like it or not, churches have a vital role to play in protecting the future of our young people.

“We are better positioned to reach more people, hence our agreement to allow the department to use church buildings for its campaigns,” said Cele.

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