US pledges $95 million for HIV/AIDS fight in Zim

The US government has commended Zimbabwe’s progress in reducing HIV prevalence and providing anti-retroviral therapy to patients, pledging $95 million, budgeted by its President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, towards the response to HIV/AIDS.

US Ambassador, Bruce Wharton
US Ambassador, Bruce Wharton

In his speech at the launch of three programmes meant to build local capacity and provide comprehensive services to combat HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe, US Ambassador, Bruce Wharton, expressed hope the programmes would go a long way in assisting Zimbabwe.

“I was here (Zimbabwe) before as the Public Affairs Officer from 1999 to 2003. In that time the HIV and AIDS epidemic was truly a plague upon the land, burning like a veld fire through the population.

"Since my return in 2012, it has been especially gratifying to me personally to see the progress that has been made and for the United States to have a role in supporting the expansion of high quality, life saving anti-retroviral treatment and other programmes across the country,” said Wharton.

He said the US Centre for Disease, USAID and PEPFAR staff would be working on a Country Operational Plan to raise another $95 million dollars for next year. This, he said, would be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“Along those lines, I am also pleased to announce that the US office of the Global AIDS Coordinator recently approved an additional $2,3 million for Zimbabwe in response to an emergency request for nearly 2,5 million HIV rapid test kits. This will effectively fill the gap in rapid test kits in Zimbabwe for all of 2014,” said Wharton.

The programmes launched today will support the training of more than 8, 000 health care workers over five years.

As part of the programmes, clinical mentorship will be provided to health care workers at 1, 500 sites, at a forecast cost of $25 million.

Under the programmes the Zimbabwe Association of Church Related Hospitals will implement HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes with funding to the tune of $5 million.

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