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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 22:44 GMT
Malawi minister's Aids trauma
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC, Lilongwe

A Malawi cabinet minister has shocked members of his staff by disclosing that he has personally lost three of his children to Aids during the past 10 years.

They would have taken care of me and buried me but instead I have buried them at such an early age
Thengo Maloya
cabinet minister
Thengo Maloya, minister for lands, physical planning and surveys, made the rare emotional disclosure when he addressed his staff at a HIV/Aids sensitisation workshop currently going on here in the capital, Lilongwe.

The minister, who is 56, said he had decided to go public about his private family tragedy to show the seriousness of the pandemic.

He said now that he is growing old the two boys and one girl, all who died in their early 20s, could have been there to look after him.

"It is very painful," said Mr Maloya.

"They would have taken care of me and buried me but instead I have buried them at such an early age."

Officials decimated

The minister said it was high time Malawians accepted Aids is there and is killing people.

He said in the last six years alone his ministry had lost close to 100 very important officers to the disease.

He said this has led his ministry to have a deficit of 800 people in its workforce.

In addition, the minister said those still in employment were either too weak with the disease to work or unable to go to work regularly because they were down with the disease or attending to a sick relation or a funeral due to Aids.

"This is a very serious issue," Mr Maloya told his staff who listened in silence.

"Let's agree that Aids is killing people, that Aids has no cure, that available drugs only prolong life but they are not a cure."

Life expectancy slashed

This is the first time a senior government official has gone public with such an impassionate disclosure of his or her private HIV/Aids situation.

Two years ago, parliamentary Speaker Sam Mpasu shocked the nation when he disclosed that Parliament had lost 28 MPs to Aids in four years alone.

Currently, over 14% of the Malawi population of 11 million are said to be living with HIV/Aids.

According to the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report, HIV/Aids has reduced Malawi's life expectancy from 46 to 36.



Country profile: Malawi
15 Oct 02 |  Country profiles

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