Putting perceptions aside, and being a healthcare worker first

Here in Malawi, discrimination against minority groups, like people with disabilities, people with albinism, and LGBTI people, has lead to difficulties for those groups of people to access health care.

Over the last year and a half, the Umunthu programme has been working with healthcare workers to promote the fact that health care is a human right of all people, including minority groups. At the three-day workshops, participants use the arts to catalyse reflection and discussion through the lens of the pan-African philosophy of umunthu, or "I am because we are."

The Umunthu team recently worked with St Joseph College of Nursing in Chiradzulu.

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Throughout the workshop, participants reflected on what it means for something to be a human right. They also reflected on their own past behaviours.

"My attitude towards the minorities was negative, in the sense that I viewed the sex workers and the LGBTI persons as sinners and regardless of me being a healthcare student who is supposed to help everyone, I would have never attended to them. But this Umunthu workshop has taught me and equipped me with information on these minorities such that I realize now that there is a lot of discrimination towards these communities and I have benefitted a lot," one participant said.

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However, the workshop's goal is not only about reflecting on the challenges that minority groups face in accessing health care, but for action to be taken to protect and ensure their rights.

"With my attitude before the workshop, I would have never even thought of helping anyone from these communities even if I saw them being treated differently or negatively, now I know better and know to treat them," the participant continued.

Each participant made a pledge for how they would implement the things they gained from the Umunthu workshop.

"Moving forward, I pledge to help everyone accordingly as a healthcare provider and interact with them."