U.S. officials in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Thursday rolled out an additional initiative to strengthen the country's HIV/AIDS prevention and care efforts with funding of US$50 million over five years.
The Strengthening Private Sector Services for Health program seeks to leverage government and non-governmental resources and activities to counter the still-devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Launching the program today in Harare in a ceremony attended by officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Ministry of Health and NGO representatives, U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray said the program will improve the quality of life for many Zimbabweans.
But he said more action is needed to combat the disease in Zimbabwe, pledging that the American government will do all it can to help people in the country access quality health services.
Dr. Gibson Mhlanga, representing Zimbabwean Minister of Health Henry Madzorera, commended the United States for its role in the battle against HIV/AIDS. He observed that the government in cooperation with organizations funded by USAID had lowered the HIV prevalence rate to 13.7 percent last year from a shocking 29.3 percent in 1997.
The new funding comes on top of money provided under the U.S. President’s Emergency Program for Aids Relief which will funnel nearly US$56 million to Zimbabwe in 2011.
It includes a small grants program distributing US$40,000 to HIV/AIDS community groups in need of additional resources, program coordinator Dawn Anderson of the U.S. embassy told VOA's Tatenda Gumbo.