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Zimbabwe Seeking Stakeholders' Funds for Tackling HIV

FILE: Members of the public wait to be tested for HIV and Aids in Harare, Zimbabwe, June, 22, 2012.

Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa says Zimbabwe is appealing to the Global Fund and the Clinton Foundation for funds assist the country in tackling HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Parirenyatwa said this on the sidelines of this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, which was addressed by President Robert Mugabe on Monday.

The number of people needing treatment increased when Zimbabwe adopted the World Health Organization treatment guidelines recommending that patients begin treatment at a CD4 count of 350, compared to the 200 count in earlier treatment guidelines.

Pregnant women and infants living with HIV are being initiated on treatment regardless of their CD4 count.

Dr. Parirenyatwa said he attended various meetings designed to fight against HIV/AIDS, especially on issues like Mother to Child Transmission.

“We have looked into the issue of how we can infiltrate into child abuse, the issues of gender disparity and how that continues to affect HIV and the distribution of resources.”

One of the major concerns on the agenda for Zimbabwe is accessibility of anti-retroviral treatment, in particular for young children. At the present time about 725,000 of an estimated 1.2 million Zimbabweans living with HIV are on anti-retroviral therapy.

But according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which has been working with government and other stakeholders to scale up pediatric and adolescent anti-retroviral treatment for HIV positive young people, children are often left out of treatment programs.

“All the partners that we’ve had particularly the Clinton Foundation, which was really centering or anchoring themselves on the provision of ARVs for children, does not really cover to the extent that we want. That is exactly why we lobby each other within government that more money, more resources should be dispersed towards purchasing ARVs,” said Parirenyatwa.

He said this would help in tackling the issue of pediatric and adolescent anti-retroviral treatment and inch closer to achieving universal health access.

“We are addressing it very vigorously and trying as much as possible to make partners recognize that there is that need, and if we are going to have any generation that all that is HIV free, we must start with the children and mothers who are pregnant.”

Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, such as UNICEF, are now working on programs to assist parents and adolescent children in dealing with HIV and also making sure they are able to access medicines.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's implementation of the WHOs new guidelines on transmission and prevention last year has assisted in addressing issues of Mother to Child Transmission and increase of treatment for women.

Interview With Dr. David Parirenyatwa
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