â€œFor long, the Vapositori have endured discrimination and name calling at the hands of the mainstream church believers working in the media and health service delivery systems, something that has been pushing some of our members to shy away from health initiatives,â€ said UDACIZA secretary general, Reverent Edison Tsvakai recently, at a ZIMPHIA faith-based organisationsâ€™ sensitisation workshop in Mutare.
ZIMPHIA is a randomly selected household-based survey targeting 15,000 households countrywide.
About 30,000 adults and children are expected to be tested for both HIV and Syphilis.
The primary goal for the study is to have a true reflection of HIV incidence (new HIV infections) at national and provincial levels as well as prevalence of suppressed HIV viral load in both adults and children.
Currently, Manicaland province has an HIV prevalence rate of 16 percent slightly higher than the national prevalence of 14 percent.
The ministry of health and child care, Strategic Information Coordinator, Dr Mutsa Mhangara said ZIMPHIA was more than a survey as it also offers syphilis services in the comfort of oneâ€™s home.
â€œZIMPHIA unlike the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey which is general in health survey, the latter is more specific to HIV and Syphilis diseases and is not a door to door exercise,â€ he said.
Data collection of the study started in October 2015 and is expected to end in April 2016.
Tsvakai said just like any concerned religious grouping with a large following in the country, UDACIZA has a number of health policies promoting good practices.
â€œWe have about three document health strategies that echo governmentâ€™s efforts to promote health seeking behavior and how best as a people, should guard against spread of diseases and treatment not excluding child marriages and gender-based violence mitigation,â€ he said.
Madzimai, Ureta Danda, a Zviratidzo Zvevapositori coordinator in Chimanimani district pledged to support ZIMPHIA.
â€œGone are the days when the apostolic faiths believed that HIV is a disease for prostitutes and that it can be cured by holly waters but by antiretroviral drugs.
â€œI am prepared to work with ZIMPHIA officials in mobilising both members of my church and the community in general.
â€œAs Vapostori we are happy that government has finally recognized us and chose to work with us in health matters,â€ she said.
After the workshop, UDACIZA formed a provincial committee that shall work with ZIMPHIA officials in mobilising its members targeted by the study.
Over 40 sects of the apostolic and Zion churches were represented.
Manicaland province is one of the strongholds of the Vapositori sects in the country and 1,620 households are targeted.
So far, about 4,500 households have been completed in Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland North provinces.
â€œWe have two teams on the ground, one covering northern five provinces and another focusing on five southern provinces of the country.
â€œThe northern team is finishing Mazoe-Bindura, while southern has completed Binga going to Hwange,â€ said Dr Shungu Munyati, a ZIMPHIA official, giving feedback on the success of the programme in provinces covered so far.
Munyati said on the 8thÂ December the northern team launched the study in Manicaland while the southern team moved to Gwanda, Matabeleland South province.
â€œWe are well on track and the rain delays have been a blessing in disguise, as we have not faced challenges to reach flood-prone areas like Mbire District.
â€œOur vehicles are new but here and there we have faced tyre punches in Binga due to poor roads,â€ revealed an official with the southern team who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The ministry of health is leading the implementation of ZIMPHIA in partnership with National AIDS Council, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), Biomedical Research and Training Institute and other international partners like Columbia University, The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Westat.
The United States Presidentâ€™s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided $8 million for the survey with additional resources have been provided by the Government of Zimbabwe and Global Fund.Post published in: Faith