|Fight against TB, malaria, HIV/Aids impressive — Global Fund|
|Saturday, 09 June 2012 22:11|
Lulu Brenda Harris
Sunday News CorrespondentA VISITING Global Fund (GF) representative was astonished by the work Zimbabwe has put in scaling up preventive measures against TB, Malaria, HIV/Aids, recognising particularly the positive involvement of communities in providing health extension services to others.
The one-week tour was organised by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Zimbabwe Country Co-ordinating Mechanism to visit Global Fund-supported programmes and showcase progress Zimbabwe has made against the three diseases.
The tour was also attended by five international journalists coming from the United States, Germany, Spain, Japan and South Africa to see progress.
After the tour, the Global Fund Official of Communications, Ms Marcela Rojo, said in comparison with other countries in Africa, Zimbabwe has experienced progress especially in the three programmes HIV, TB and Malaria.
“I think it’s very impressive how funds have translated into good workmanship between the Government and the community. I can see the results went as far as the grassroots level,” she said.
Ms Rojo said Zimbabwe should keep on strengthening the prescribed set objectives of meeting targets and praised the country’s behavioural change programme.
Zimbabwe embarked on a massive national positive behavioural change programme and is the only country in Southern Africa where HIV prevalence in adults declined substantially.
“I would like to commend Zimbabwe on HIV and Aids work. She is doing very well. The international guidelines were to reduce incidence by 80 percent and the country did that up to 90 percent.
“The prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programmes are also going well. I was impressed that mothers have embraced this for the lives of their children and for an HIV-free generation,” she said.
Ms Rojo said the involvement of the community and putting health on their hands was on target, as it was critical to scaling up the prevention service required to inform people.
“Community health workers make a difference and I was happy to see them so engaged. The community should be involved in helping to reduce stigma. They are part of the solution and that means a problem solved,” she said.
The Global Fund Official of Communications, however, said TB still remained a challenge in terms of diagnosis and data collection.
Ms Rojo said because of that, GF would be funding a survey on Zimbabwe to determine how TB prevention could be improved and assessed.
“Zimbabwe is one of the few countries to be analysed in this survey because the country should work on having more reliable data for future use,” she said.
Ms Rojo said the country should still continue heading up anti-malaria campaigns and aim to provide nets for all who need them.
“Checks should be made on all provinces to determine which place or region has the worst cases of malaria,” she said
The Global Fund Official of Communications advised the Government to put in place good health sector policies and continue with its behavioural change success story.
“Zimbabwe, like any other country needs to find innovative ways of funding while Global Fund also continues to mobilise resources for rapid response against TB, Malaria, HIV/Aids,” she said.
Meanwhile the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) has paid tribute to Zimbabwe’s progress at rolling back HIV/Aids.
This was said during the launch of the GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa in Harare on 24 May .
UNAIDS reported “a significant reduction of adult HIV prevalence and a steady decline in the number of new adult HIV infections.”
UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Michel Sidibé commended the Government for having achieved one of the sharpest declines in HIV prevalence in Southern Africa, from 27 percent in 1997 to just over 14 per cent in 2010.
UNAIDS reports Zimbabwe expanding coverage of antiretroviral drugs among adults, from 15 percent in 2007 to 80 percent in 2010. At the close of 2011, nearly half a million people in the country were receiving vital HIV treatment and care.
There has also been the increase in the number of sites providing PMTCT services, doubling in recent years, from 920 in 2008 to 1 560 in 2010.
According to the World Health Organisation 2011: Global HIV/Aids response report, an estimated 86 percent of HIV-positive expecting women received antiretroviral drugs in 2010, in contrast to 17 percent in 2008.
UNAIDS has applauded the role of community centres that mix health, food and social services.