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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Zim ticks the right boxes in fight against HIV/AIDS

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

The Zimbabwean diaspora community under the Zim Health banner has expressed interest in partnering government in the fight against neo-natal childhood cancers.

True to the Second Republic’s mantra: ‘Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo, Ilizwe Lakhiwa Labanikazi Balo,’ Zim Health, made up of Zimbabweans based in the diaspora, is now expanding its philanthropic work to combating childhood cancers.

Speaking soon after meeting Vice President General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, on the sidelines of the ongoing 76th session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the organisation’s Secretary General for Europe Chapter, Mr Rutendo Kuwana pledged to partner government in improving access to health care.

“So, the organisation was established in 2008 by a few Zimbabweans based here in Switzerland. Our efforts have been following up on maternal and child health where we are providing support in terms of infrastructure in particular mostly in local authority clinics and faith-based hospitals,” he said.

“Our major project, for example, was working in collaboration with some partners to do the refurbishment of Mabvuku clinic we have also done some work in some other hospitals like Karanda Hospital.”

“We have also provided support to about 35 facilities since we were established. We have also been working with the cancer association.”

“Our focus remains maternal and child health and one of the most important and sad situations that the Vice President was talking about was the issue of neonatal child cancer so the call to action that we have received from him is to collaborate with our partners in terms of research facilities infrastructure and medicines,” he added.

Vice President Chiwenga also paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Executive Director for the Programme Branch of UNAIDS, Angeli Achrekar at their offices in Geneva where the topical issue was strides made in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“You are aware Zimbabwe was affected quite heavily with HIV and AIDS from the middle 90s into the last decade from 2000 into 2010,” said Vice President Chiwenga.

“The disease was playing havoc and government had to come up with a firm policy to say, what do we do? The government then introduced the AIDS levy which every person who is employed pays even up to this day, but UNAIDS having realised they also came to the assistance of Zimbabwe.”

“AIDS has affected us that heavily government had to take the full responsibility to address the matter. As Zimbabwe, we are among some of the countries who are leading in the fight against HIV on the continent.”

“We have surpassed 95 in two areas but on suppression of the disease we are still at 93, but we think we will be able to surpass it either end of this year or next year.”

“By 2025 we will be done and so the goal to wipe out HIV AIDS by 2030 we will achieve it so we went to discuss and share ideas with UNAIDS because of the role they have played in containing this disease in Zimbabwe,” he added.

In October 2022, Zimbabwe became the first country in Africa to approve cabotegravir, an injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention in a move which was commended by global health analysts and organisations.

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