Zimbabwe: ‘Let’s Cut New HIV Infections’

Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said Zimbabwe is committed to play its part in the reduction of new HIV infections.

Speaking at the 4th quarter national validation committee meeting on dual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis in a speech read by his deputy Dr John Mangwiro yesterday, VP Chiwenga said interventions were being made to reach the target.

“The World Health Organisation has come up with the initiative for countries to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis,” he said. “Zimbabwe embraced the initiative, as we are determined to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV to less than 5 percent.

“Let us put the needs and rights of women living with HIV at the centre of our work so that together, we can reach the goal of eliminating both HIV and syphilis as public health threats.”

VP Chiwenga said new HIV infections in children should be a thing of past considering the interventions being made.

“We continue to ask ourselves why new HIV infections are still occurring in children in this day when we have all the interventions and antiretroviral medicines to prevent HIV transmission to their children, while keeping mothers healthy,” he said.

“Being on antiretroviral treatment protects the health of mothers and families, including that of male partners.”

VP Chiwenga said Covid-19 had derailed meeting the HIV targets by 2020.

“Here in Zimbabwe, Covid-19 has been with us since March 2020 and has resulted in the country instituting containment measures, including lockdowns to try and mitigate the spread and impact of Covid-19,” he said.

“This pandemic resulted in collateral damage as essential services for women and children were negatively impacted. Our womenfolk must visit health care facilities to receive antenatal care and delivery services to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Children should also receive post-delivery care.”

Speaking at the same occasion, World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Alex Gasasira commended Zimbabwe for the way it has responded to the Covid-19 global pandemic, but warned against complacency since the threat of the disease is still real.

More than 11 000 people have tested positive for the pandemic in Zimbabwe, while more than 300 have died after testing positive, but the encouraging aspect is that more than 80 percent have fully recovered.

“I would like to start by appreciating the very strong leadership of the Government of Zimbabwe — the Ministry of Health and Child Care and all stakeholders in their efforts to combat the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Gasasira.

“We are all aware of the efforts to ensure a strong health system and all this has not been forgotten despite the challenges that Covid-19 has brought.”

Dr Gasasira said it was encouraging that Zimbabwe did not negate other health services it was mandated to deal with despite the presence of the global pandemic.

He said they were encouraged by the efforts Zimbabwe has put in place to strengthen its health systems, which is set for a major revamp under the ongoing restructuring exercises.

Complacency has been creeping into society, with some people disregarding Covid-19 mitigatory measures, but Dr Gasasira implored continued adherence in light of the expected Christmas festivities.

“Many countries in our region — Africa — have been experiencing resurgence in Covid-19 cases, Zimbabwe is one of them,” he said.

“We are at a time where we should be celebrating the festive season, but let us not forget the immediate challenge that is in our midst — Covid-19.”


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