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Zimbabwe Hosts SADC Health Ministers Meeting

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Health ministers responsible for HIV/AIDS in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are expected to meet in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls town Thursday to discuss health approaches to various diseases.

The meeting ends on Friday with a commemoration of SADC Malaria Day.

Apart from HIV/IAIDS, the ministers are set to focus on status reports from member states on critical health issues such as malaria, tuberculosis and Ebola.

The meeting is expected to strengthen collaboration, strategies and practices of addressing critical diseases.

Dr. Gerald Gwinji, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, said Zimbabwe and other SADC member states are making concerted efforts in tackling critical health issues within the region.

Speaking on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Gwinji said the region has recorded tremendous gains.

“In terms of the overall trend we will be presenting to the ministers that as a region we have made gains, yes the total number of our new infections have actually decreased, survival rate has improved, the intake of ART, in other words the treatment program has improved, survival of mothers who are HIV positive and are pregnant has improved and the outcome of children born of mothers who are HIV positive has also improved,” he said.

But Dr. Gwinji said much focus will be on the youth population in which there are increases in HIV rates and cases of sexually transmitted diseases.

He said SADC’s plans for tackling Malaria will continue under its country and region approaches, factoring the region in order to focus resources and programming to target certain areas within the region.

Dr. Gwinji noted there are other programmes such as the Elimination 8 Effort, which moves to strengthen existing cross-border collaborations in Southern Africa,

"This is a regional effort starting with the most southern-most part of our region South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland Botswana and Namibia, with support Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and DRC supporting the effort,” he said.

He added that the region is continuing its efforts in fighting Ebola, pushing a preparedness plan within the region.

“Currently we remain in preparedness mode with surveillance, a lot of training and a lot of preparation just in case we have an outbreak in any one of states,” said Gwinji.

This meeting will be followed by the commemoration of SADC Malaria Day, on Friday. Malaria Day will be commemorated under the Theme: ‘Strong partnerships sustain gains in malaria control’ and Slogan: ‘Combining efforts - Key to success.