BULAWAYO – Ednah Madzongwe, president of the Senate, has encouraged Members of Parliament (MPs) to lead exemplary lifestyles in their communities to curb HIV and Aids prevalence in the country.
Madzongwe told an HIV and Aids advocacy workshop for parliamentarians held in Bulawayo at a local hotel that MPs were the most visible people in their constituencies with the potential to command respect.
“I therefore want to appeal to all of us to utilise this potential and opportunity to promote positive sexual behavioural change among the people in our communities,” she said.
Madzongwe said legislators should be on the forefront of activities to curb HIV and Aids prevalence.
“As parliamentarians and senators we have a critical role to play in ensuring that our people access HIV counselling and testing as well as medicines to prevent transmission of HIV to children. We must keep HIV on the social and development agenda for our communities.”
She said legislators have a duty to ensure people receive not only relevant but quality medicines to maximise chances of survival and delay the onset of side effects.
“It is my hope that legislators spearhead programmes in their communities while serving as role models as well. MPs play a major role in developing the country,” she said.
“Our positions are significant avenues of facilitating development among the people through influence and role modelling.”
Madzongwe encouraged MPs to emulate the example set by the previous senate whose members were involved in public HIV counselling and testing as well as spearheading the male circumcision campaign.
Following that display of commitment, the demand for HIV testing and voluntary medical male circumcision went up across the country, she added.
Madzongwe appealed to legislators to consider undertaking a similar campaign in addition to spearheading programmes in the constituencies they lead.
She said some of the problems affecting the health sector needed legislative intervention and legislators ought to assist in this regard.
Over the years, Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has been battered by limited investment as well as economic challenges resulting in declining efficiency and effectiveness in terms of value to the client.
“We have also seen a trend of late wherein some of our donors are withdrawing or withholding funding for HIV and Aids and such drastic developments whose impact is devastating on the national response particularly people accessing ARVs require a deliberate response at a policy and legislative level,” she said.
She said an improvement is yet to be seen on the issue of funding.
“We understand that our country is still operating at below optimal economic productivity and as such the aids levy is yet to reach its potential,” the leader of the Senate said.