By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni
Key populations (KP) in Malawi are a group facing significant stigma and discrimination both in society at large and at health facilities, because some of their behaviours are stigmatised and even criminalised. As a result, they also have less access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services.
It is against this backdrop that Malawian MP for Mchinji West; Honourable Deus Gumba (pictured above), has made strides in giving a voice to members of key populations in his constituency and beyond.
Key populations are identified as female sex workers, prisoners, men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women. They are sometimes also called ‘most affected populations’ because they are considered to be at higher risk of contracting HIV than the general populace.
Honourable Gumba, who is among several legislators who have been trained on KP issues by SAfAIDS, says he continues to fill knowledge gaps and disseminate key populations’ issues on various platforms.
“The SAfAIDS trainings have greatly enhanced my understanding of human nature and association. As an MP who represents, legislates and provides oversight, this has tremendously helped me to speak out to authorities on KP issues effectively and without fear,” he said.
He has also engaged with fellow legislators, traditional and religious leaders for greater acceptance and tolerance of key populations and says that all societies, should demonstrate the political will to deal with stigma and discrimination towards these groups.