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Mugabe Hails HIV Fight - World Aids Day,

by Staff reporter
01 Dec 2011 at 12:07hrs | Views
Despite the declining rate of HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe, the country still needs to expand on the prevention of mother -to-child transmission while increasing the number of facilities that provide HIV testing and counselling.

In his state of the nation address on the eve of the World Aids Day, President Mugabe said studies have shown that the prevalence rate had stabilised at around 13 percent.

"However, the falling rate is not in itself a strong indication of the effectiveness of our programmes. Through the provision of treatment services, we should ideally reduce the number of HIV related deaths. Our country has a range of HIV prevention programmes which, over the years, have served as examples to other nations," he said.

President Mugabe said to get to Zero new infections, there was need to expand the prevention of the Mother to Child transmission while expanding the number of facilities that provide HIV testing and counselling from the current 74 percent national coverage.

He lauded the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the National Aids Council and "our partners" for running the door to door testing campaign in Manicaland, Harare and Mashonaland East provinces as part of the pre and post launch activities of the World Aids Day.

President Mugabe encouraged people to get tested.

"We also have to scale up other programmes such as condom promotion, male circumcision, awareness campaigns and the encouragement of abstinence," he said.

This year's theme "Getting to Zero."

The national World AIDS Day committee and some stakeholders under NAC initiated programmes, unanimously adopted the 2011 global World AIDS Campaign theme, Getting Zero.

The theme entails Zero new HIV infections, Zero stigma and discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths.

Political and business leaders have been implored to shun behaviours that fuel the spread of HIV, but spearhead programmes that give people the impetus to seek counselling and get tested and know their status.

Some HIV and AIDS lobby groups, yesterday said the war against the disease could only be won if leaders used their influence to cause behaviour change of their followers.

The main event is being held in Manicaland province and leaders of various institutions are also expected to be tested of HIV at different testing centres.

The main national World AIDS Day commemoration will be held today at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare, Manicaland province where the Minister of Public Service, Ms Lucia Matibenga is expected to officiate.

The day's programme includes addresses by Government officials, NAC officials, implementing partners, distribution of HIV and AIDS literature, drama and music by various artists. Zimbabwe HIV and AIDS Activist Union (ZHAAU) president Mr Bernard Nyathi, yesterday said the nation should emulate President Mugabe who publicly admitted that

some of his relatives had succumbed to AIDS and was taking care of the victims' families. He said ZHAAU condemned leaders who behaved in recklessly by causing new infections.

"We do not encourage leaders to have many girlfriends. If the head of the family is wayward, then everyone in that family will go astray. Leaders in politics and in business should lead by example," said Mr Nyathi.

He said as the country joined the world in celebrating the World AIDS Day, it was disturbing to note that Zero AIDS related deaths was difficult to achieve.

Mr Nyathi said Government was supposed to bring in more medicines to alleviate the suffering of thousands of Zimbabweans living with HIV and AIDS.

"The cheapest drug, cotrimoxazole is not available in hospitals. The Expanded Support Programme (ESP) has left 80 000 without medicine. MSF is also going to leave 24 000 next year, bringing the number of affected people that need support to 104 000," he said. Mr Nyathi said the first line treatment drugs cost between US$60 and US$90, while the second line treatment was US$120.

MDC president Professor Welshman Ncube said the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare was supposed to coordinate such programmes. He said all the political parties in the country were supposed to have HIV programmes.

"We recognise that this is an extremely important day. HIV and AIDS is a serious challenge in Zimbabwe and in Southern Africa. Firstly, we would like to promote abstinence and encourage the people to engage in safe sex and use all methods that we have in the country.

There should be a number of awareness campaigns spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Health and Child Welfare and Media, Information and Publicity. All the political parties should have HIV and AIDS programmes," he said.

Prof Ncube, however, said those leaders that thought going for public HIV test should be allowed to proceed with their programmes.

"Some of us do not belief in that. It's grandstanding. Those are just symbolic. What matters to us is to encourage people to engage in safe sex," he said.

National Aids Council spokesperson, Mr Orirando Manwere said stakeholders also believe that the triple Zeros could be achieved if leaders at all levels played their part in the response to the epidemic, particularly through community mobilisation for social and behaviour change programmes targeted at vulnerable populations and resource mobilisation.

Source - Herald