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U.S Embassy Launches 3 HIV/AIDS Programs in Zim

Ambassador Bruce Wharton
The United States government on Thursday launched three HIV-related programs to build local capacity and provide comprehensive services to combat HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.

The American government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), has availed $30 million that will be used to finance these programs for the next five years.

The programs, which will support the training of over 8,000 health care workers and provide clinical mentorship to health care workers at 1,500 sites countrywide, will be implemented by the Zimbabwe Association of Church-Related Hospitals and the International Training and Education Center for Heath (i-Tech) with technical support coming from America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Officiating at the launch of these programs in Harare, U.S Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, said his government remains committed to partnering with Zimbabwe in the fights against HIV/AIDS, adding that the programs will target the most remote parts of the country.

To this end, America provided 21 vehicles to aid the programs.

Following the $95 million provided by America through PEPFAR this year for HIV/AIDS relief, Ambassador Wharton revealed that the Zimbabwean government is negotiating with Washington for a similar package for next year.

“I’m also pleased to announce that the US Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator recently approved an additional $2.3 million for Zimbabwe in response to an emergency request for nearly 2.5 million HIV rapid test kits. This will effectively fill the gap in rapid test kits in Zimbabwe for all in 2014.”

Speaking at the same occasion, I-Tech principal Investigator and chairperson of the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington in the U.S, Professor King Holmes, said researchers were working round the clock in search of an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

Meanwhile, ZACH board chairperson Mercy Chaka, urged authorities to come up with a clear policy on voluntary male circumcision.

Director of AIDS and Tuberculosis in the health ministry, Owen Mugurungi, who spoke on behalf of Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said his department will soon train nurses to perform circumcision surgicals as this was currently being done by a few trained doctors.

The programs launched Thursday will also empower health care workers operating in the HIV/Aids field through e-learning.

As the world battles to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, health experts are encouraging people to embrace behavioral change and using preventive measures such as using condoms to stop the spread of the disease.