The Minister of Health, Dorcas Makgato-Malesu has said that a Kanye hospital is undermining efforts to fight HIV/AIDS by refusing to give contraceptives to unmarried people.
She said that the decision by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Hospital is unfortunate. The church-run hospital adheres to a doctrine that stipulates that people should only indulge in sex when they are married.
This suggests that, as reported in Echo newspaper recently, the hospital would not assist unmarried patients with access to contraceptives, including condoms.
The minister said that the hospital should recant on their requirement for such patients to produce marriage certificates to receive contraceptives.
Makgato Malesu said: “I know matters of faith are difficult”.
She added that the government expects every organisation to join forces in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Member of Parliament for Kanye South, Abraham Kesupile, said he is aware that the hospital does not provide contraceptives to single people and this is a matter of grave concern.
He said this is disturbing because the hospital receives resources from government, adding that this would not be the case if it were a government facility.
Kesupile emphasised that religion should not be in contrast with government policy, adding that the SDA hospital is subjected to ethos and rules of the church.
He said the hospital’s policy on contraceptives is not acceptable at all.
The legislator said that the hospital wants to treat all patients as if they are members of their congregation.
“We shouldn’t pretend as if the youth don’t engage in sex and deny them condoms. It is dangerous,” he said.
“There is an assumption that if you are asking for condoms you want to be promiscuous,” he said, arguing that this is not the case.
He added that people who want to protect themselves are aware of the health safety requirements.
Kesupile said this is an unfortunate situation, which calls for government intervention.
He said people have always been complaining about services at the Kanye hospital, noting that it even discourages admitted patients from eating meat.
“As far as I am concerned, the element of choice is important,” said the MP.
The only way out of the situation, he says, is for the government to build a hospital in Kanye. “We need a hospital where people can have a say not one which is controlled by a church,” he said.
Kesupile said that if the government controlled the hospital it could be expanded, as there is a need to, unlike in the current situation. “How far can you push them to expand their hospital? One, it would be unfair. Two, would you give them the funds to do so?” he asked.