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Health personnel pledge to support sexual minorities

BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE - The provision of adequate information and training to health personnel on issues related to Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM) is an integral component in ensuring that their right to the highest attainable standards of sexual and reproductive health care services is upheld.

Registered General Nurses (RGN) and counselors from Mpilo Central Hospital who attended a one-day training workshop organised by the Sexual Rights Centre to empower them with skills and knowledge on providing comprehensive services to MSM expressed these sentiments.

Mpilo Central Hospital is a Government institution in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

The workshop for nurses and counselors was organised following another workshop conducted by the Sexual Rights Centre that targeted MSM in 2009. In that workshop, MSM pointed out that they faced a plethora of challenges from the medical fraternity which include unprofessional conduct by nurses who discuss confidential information with other nurses, rude and arrogant conduct, imposing religious values aimed at changing their sexual preferences and poor or denial of services.

Nurses and counselors explored the advantages and disadvantages of providing sexual and reproductive health services to MSM. The advantages noted included stigma reduction, reduction in the spread of STIs including HIV and improve their self esteem. The disadvantage noted included conflict among medical practitioners who have not yet accepted MSM.

The provision of services to MSM at hospitals was also discussed with participants saying that there was need to train health personnel nationally so that they accept MSM, develop Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material on MSM and train MSM as peer educators and counselors. Participants also noted that there was a need to provide the same training to spiritual and religious leaders so that discrimination and stigma against MSM is reduced.

The workshop which was held on 09 January 2010 was attended by 15 nurses and counselors. Some MSM also attended the workshop and assisted in the facilitation.

Comments

Emily Garcia's picture

Thank you!

Thank you for reporting on this important issue. It is so good to see that work is being done in Zimbabwe to educate health personnel about sexual rights and to thus reduce discrimination in health care services and stigma in the community.

Best wishes,

Emily

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Associate

cad_communication's picture

Expansion of programme

Emily,
Thank you very much for your comment. We hope to expand this programme nationwide and to implement some of the recommendations suggested during the workshop with health personnel.

I will keep you updated.

Gertrude

michellee's picture

topical

Gertrude,

I was inspired by your uplifting post in light of the proposed anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. Thank you!

Be well,

Michelle

cad_communication's picture

Sexual minorities have rights

Michelle,
I wish all countries will call for the end of violence against sexual minorities and the promotion of their human rights

Gertrude

Mwierenga's picture

Moving forward or backward...

Gertrude,
I congratulate you for sharing this information with the PulseWire community. I feel that there are groups of humans moving forward and working to make this world a better place and there are humans moving backward, crawling under rocks, and working to make people's lives worse. Change happens. We should all learn to adapt to it without hurting others. I am happy to read that 15 nurses and counselors in Zimbabwe wish to move forward!
Marlies

cad_communication's picture

More still needs to be done

Marlies,
More work still needs to be done to challenge myths, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and perception that perpetuate the violation of rights for sexual minorities. I strongly feel that we need to start changing people's perspectives on certain things if everyone is to enjoy their human rights.
I would like to take this campaign further and target the church.
What steps are currently being taken in your country to promote the rights of sexual minorities?
Please, can you give us a report.
Gertrude

Tina's picture

Thank you for this story

Thank you for this story Gertrude,
It is fascinating for me to learn of the need for sexual rights in other countries overseas. I hope it reminds readers in all countries that sexual orientation is biological and not a cultural problem or disease of the mind, as so many people have mistakenly thought for many many years. In some areas this thinking remains prevalent and there is much education needed to be done to reduce the ignorance and the stigma as your article recognizes.
Regardless of one's own belief systems, health care to ALL people is absolutely imperative and a human right. It is wonderful to see that there are people in Zimbabwe who recognize the unique needs of these men (and women) in their sexual and reproductive health.
Tina

cad_communication's picture

Need to dymystify sexuality

Tina,
Thank you for your comment.

I also think that there is need to dymystify sexuality. In my country, i feel that culture and religion, as you rightly point out play a significant role in forming attitudes and beliefs that lead to the violation of human rights for sexual minorities.

In this regard, i think there is need to call for comprehensive sexuality education in schools. I know that in my country people are calling for the inclusion of civic education / human rights education in the schools curriculum following the gross human rights violation in the country by President Mugabe's regime for all most 3 decades.

The arguement is that if human rights are taught in schools and people learn them at an early age, they will be able to stand up and challenge anyone violation their rights.

Using this school of thought, i believe that it equally applies to sexuality education. If it is taught at a tender age, young people grow up and understand their bodies and it they are attracted to people of the same sex or both sexes, they will understand that it is natural and embrace it without shame or fear.

Gertrude

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