Urgent access to treatment needed

The Zimbabwe National Network of People living with HIV has called for universal treatment to be priority at a stakeholders meeting held in Harare.

With organisations like MSF pulling out, the burden of AIDS work falls on the local government.
With organisations like MSF pulling out, the burden of AIDS work falls on the local government.

The Global Fund, which has been the major donor for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, recently announced its suspension of round 11 applications. This has serious implications on the health sector, especially people living HIV.

At least over 1,2 million people are living with HIV with 593 163 infected people in need of antiretroviral therapy. Only 400 000 people have access to ART.

“This is far short of the universal access to treatment and care services. Set against the donor pull out and the change from the cheaper drugs like Stavudine to the potentially expensive Tenofovir, the possibility of scaling up treatment looks gloomy,” said Clarence Mademutsa, Project Officer of ZNNP+.

Zimbabwe joined the international community in commemorating World Aids Day, and celebrated the sharpest decline in HIV prevalence rates worldwide.

“Let’s look at now at the future, bearing in mind the need to be proactive and come up with sustainable local interventions in dealing with the cancellations,” Tendai Westerhoff said.

ZNNP+ officials urged the government to honour its 15% budget allocation to the health sector as per the Abuja Declaration of 2001. In the budget presentation, the Minister of Finance only allocated 8, 6% with the promise of working towards fulfilling the target.

Tawanda Maclean, 23, expressed concern over the exclusion of youths in policy and decision making.

“Most of us in our support groups are not aware of the cancellation of funding, making it difficult for us to prepare ourselves in such situations,” he said.

Tapiwa Moyo, (not her real name) from Epworth, echoed the same sentiments: “It’s sad that most the donors are withdrawing, including Médecins Sans Frontières, which has played a pivotal role in supplying us with food and drugs. The government should come in and fill the gap for us to be able to live a healthy, active life.”

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  1. Benjamin Joseph
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