HIV/AIDS is one of the major threats facing Malawi. According to available statistics, there are nearly 90,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in that country. HIV prevalence for Malawi is at 14.4 percent with an urban prevalence of 21.7 percent versus 14.5 percent in rural areas.
Blantyre is one of the first cities in the world to embrace the City Consultation approach with the hope of replication in other local governments in the country and beyond. Citywide consultations were held with various civil society groups, Government Departments, business community, and others. His prompted civil society groups to work with the City Assembly in a number of areas as worries and awareness grew over the impact on the city’s socio-economic development, increasing medical and funeral costs, and the loss of institutional memory in many enterprises, a growing number of orphans and other factors.
Blantyre thus started a Transformational Leadership training programme in May 2003. The same year it conducted drew up an HIV/AIDS Profile of the city, and held seminars that produced a new initiative to disseminate information about the disease, provide better access to treatment, and special programmes for women and girls.
Currently Blantyre city is ensuring that contraceptives are available, and that schools have HIV/AIDS programmes. It has also set up an HIV/AIDS Challenge Fund to support local NGOs, and communities, and established a special resource centre for the public.
Blantyre City Assembly shows that local governments have a crucial role to in managing and integrating HIV and AIDS. This case illustrates that it is possible for city authorities and local and regional partners to jointly and productively work to address the crisis using a system that is replicable elsewhere.