US launches US$78m healthcare service
THE United States (US) President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), through the US Agency for International Development (USAid), yesterday launched two projects worth a combined US$78 million to provide critical HIV healthcare services for over 500 000 Zimbabweans.
USAid Zimbabwe mission director Art Brown said the US is proud to stand with the people of Zimbabwe to address HIV.
“Together with our partners, USAid is ensuring that people living with HIV can start treatment early, adhere to treatment, reach viral load suppression, and live longer, healthier lives.
“We are also working to reach 95 percent of the estimated 40 000 female sex workers in Zimbabwe to help reduce HIV infections, provide onsite initiation of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and transfer clients to public sector facilities,” Brown said.
USAid, together with the Organisation for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID), would provide care and treatment services for more than 500 000 people living with HIV at 700 health facilities in 24 districts, for the next five years.
OPHID would expand client-centred services in facilities and communities and train more than
12 000 healthcare workers on innovative models to increase testing, ART initiation and adherence, and viral load testing.
USAid and OPHID would also support the development of national level policy, strategy, and healthcare guidelines which the ministry of Health and Child Care will cascade to the whole country.
Through a one-year programme, USAid and the Centre for Sexual Health, HIV and Aids Research (CeSHHAR) would help close the remaining gaps in HIV prevention and care for sex workers in the five hotspot districts of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, and Masvingo, and three border posts with Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia.
Working directly with female sex workers, USAid would reduce new HIV infections through increasing the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), condoms, and other emerging prevention technologies.
“Pepfar’s efforts to fight HIV will ultimately help Zimbabwe meet critical HIV/Aids treatment targets. Our support breaks barriers and closes remaining gaps in sustaining and accelerating HIV prevention and care,” said US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols.
Since Pepfar’s inception in Zimbabwe in 2006, US investments of more than US$1,2 billion have led to an 80 percent decline in the annual number of HIV-related deaths, with more than 1,15 million Zimbabweans currently on lifesaving antiretroviral medicines.