Blantyre, founded in 1876, was supposed to be an old man, ceaselessly
churning out lessons to all institutions, people, and other cities
established before it.
Dr. Emmanuel Kanjunjunju, Health Services Director at Blantyre City Assembly
The city has passed through so many stages- from becoming a British
consular in 1883, attaining municipality status in 1895, to, at one
time, becoming the preferred abode of the Father and Founder of the
Malawi Nation, Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. So old is it that it
even pre-dates such cities as South Africa’s Johannesburg, Zimbabwe’s
Harare, and Kenya’s Nairobi.
With such a rich back ground, one would be made to believe that
Blantyre is a learning place.
Surprise! Officials from Blantyre City Assembly say the city is,
contrary to popular opinion, a ‘student’ of HIV and AIDS.
In fact, says Dr. Emmanuel Kanjunjunju- Blantyre City Assembly’s
Director for Health and Social Services- Blantyre has been a student
of HIV and AIDS “for as long as HIV and AIDS have been in existence”.
Says Dr. Kanjunjunju: “HIV and AIDS took everyone by surprise and we,
as city officials, are no exception. I am happy to say that, every
year, our knowledge on HIV and AIDS has been growing. In fact, we have
been trying various mechanisms in our response to the HIV and AIDS
Dr. Kanjunjunju adds that HIV and AIDS have ‘taught’ city officials
one big lesson: “to listen and value the input of other stakeholders,
notably the Community Based Organisations (CBOs) we work with”.
“These CBOs have helped us successfully scale up preventive and
treatment programmes. Through them, we have been able to identify
causes of discrimination and continued deaths due to HIV and AIDS,”
Dr. Kanjunjunju says, adding that Blantyre will continue to learn from
scientists, World Health Organisation reports, media coverage and CBOs
monitoring and evaluation reports on immerging issues.
Dr. Kanjunjunju sums up by saying Blantyre has not been a student of
HIV and AIDS in vain.
“From the lessons we have learned from others, we are happy to say
that we have positively contributed towards decreased cases of HIV and
AIDS prevalence. We have also managed to give funding, through the
National AIDS Commission, to CBOs and people living positively with
HIV and AIDS. All these efforts now put us in a better position to
meet the three thematic areas for this year’s HIV and AIDS
Commemoration Day,” Dr. Kanjunjunju says.