Story by Oleen Ndori
GOVERNMENT is prioritizing early testing and treatment to ensure eradication of HIV in infants and adolescents at national level.
Addressing the first quarter National Validation Committee Meeting on the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis in Harare this Friday, Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, said government is implementing a number of programmes including early testing and treatment, closing the treatment gap along with prevention of new infections.
General Retired Dr Chiwenga said, ‘‘The global alliance team is supported by a technical team of experts from various programmes. To that end the global alliance country team has developed a country plan with activities targeted at ending AIDS in children by 2030. These activities are targeted at addressing bottlenecks identified under each of the four pillars of the global alliance as follows; early testing and optimised treatment for infants, children and adolescents living with HIV, closing the treatment gap for pregnant/breastfeeding women living with HIV and improving continuity of treatment, preventing new HIV infections among pregnant/ breastfeeding adolescents and women and addressing rights, gender and social and structural barriers to access services and promote participation.’’
He added that men, traditional and religious leaders and their organisations must be included in programmes meant to eradicate HIV by 2030.
‘‘Men need to be included in the global alliance as they are key to health issues affecting women and children as well as in tackling the scourge of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Of note is that in some of the cases of GBV, men are the victims although we know that women are the victims in the majority of cases. It is important to include traditional and religious organisations in tackling some social ills as well as in the provision of services. The role of families and communities in addressing issues to do with stigma and discrimination and in provision of care to affected family members should be emphasised.’’
According to Vice President Chiwenga, statistics indicate that if the programme is well implemented, Zimbabwe has the potential to reduce mother to child transmission by 2025, increasing antenatal care to 95 percent and also escalating pediatric treatment coverage from the current 75 percent to 95 percent for the years between 2023 and 2026.