Lack of food hindering adherence to ARV drugs, decry women
By Brian Osweta
Women living with HIV in Mombasa have decried lack of food, which hinders their adherence to taking ARV drugs. The drugs require one to have a well-balanced healthy diet for them to work effectively.
Most of the women whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID 19 pandemic, have said that since they do not have an income at the moment, they can’t get food to eat even as they cope with the challenges of living with HIV.
Speaking in Mombasa on Saturday during a meeting to offer food aid to some of the women, organized by a local Member of County Assembly, Naomi Mwangada, the Assistant chair of Kiembeni Women’s Group said it’s high time that their plight was heard.
“Some of our members have even been forced to skip taking their drugs, being afraid of the effects of taking them without food as it really makes them very weak.” She said. She adds that this is really dangerous, as this can have a huge effect on someone’s HIV condition, due to the fact that the virus can easily mutate rendering the medicine ineffective.
Mombasa Nominated MCA Milkah Ngare, told Gilitics media that she was touched by the situation that was affecting the ladies and sought for a way to help them. “As you can see some of them are every weak so I brought them maize flour, wheat flour, cooking oil, vegetables from my garden, sugar and rice so that they can at least get something to eat even as they take their medication.” Said Ms. Ngare.
She added that she decided to tag along the Bamburi ward chairperson and the village elders who accompanied her to the meeting, so that they can see the situation and find a long-lasting solution. “The food that I brought will only last for a few days, what will happen after that? Therefore, I have called upon these area leaders to ensure that when food is being distributed, they are also considered,” She added.
The women’s group which comprise of about 20 to 30 members also complained that they are discriminated upon when it comes to the food distribution. “When they see my surname all of a sudden, I can’t receive food. And you know I also can’t go announcing to everyone that I have HIV in order to get food as some will start discriminating against me, you can not disclose personal information to everyone.” Said Mary Waceke, a member of the Kiembeni Women’s group.
Waceke added that she used to sell chicken but with the COVID 19 pandemic, her business has gone down and she is torn between getting food for her and her children and getting money to buy chicken feeds. With most of them being widows, they say it has been very difficult for them as they depended on jobs such as doing laundry for people and at the moment everybody is scared of inviting people to their homes because of Covid 19.