Platform to showcase HIV progress welcome VP Chiwenga

Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe has welcomed the international platform to showcase the progress it has made in HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and the opportunity to learn from global best practices, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.

He was speaking during the official opening of the 22nd International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2023) in Harare yesterday.

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, United Nations (UN) representatives and several other international delegates and interest groups are in attendance.

Having previously served as the Minister of Health and Child Care, VP Chiwenga has had the opportunity to champion President Mnangagwa’s universal health coverage strategy for which the war on HIV/AIDS and other STIs is a central target.

“Our guest of honour, President Mnangagwa, has set this country on a transformative and developmental path towards the realisation of an empowered and prosperous upper-middle income society by 2030,” said VP Chiwenga.

“To that end, health and well-being were identified as key pillars in the National Development Strategy 1, a blueprint that anchors the achievement of that Vision.

“It is common cause that good health makes an important contribution to economic progress, as a healthy population is more productive and lives longer.

“Through his visionary leadership, His Excellency, the President, Cde Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa noted that ICASA offers Zimbabwe an important platform to showcase our progress in the response to HIV and also learn from our brothers and sisters across the continent of Africa and beyond.”

VP Chiwenga said the devastation caused by the recent Covid-19, and HIV/AIDS over the years, has taught us to be resilient and build capacity in the entire health delivery system.

“Therefore, it is important that this conference comes up with innovative means to collectively improve our health system and specifically the response to HIV and emerging epidemics.

“I am pleased to highlight that following the submission of our bid to host the conference, the delegation of the Society of AIDS in Africa visited Zimbabwe to conduct assessments.

“Although it was not mandatory to meet the President, President Mnangagwa invited the delegation to the State House and had a meeting with them.

“He demonstrated rare leadership and made financial commitments to support the country’s bid. In essence, he has made this conference a success,” said VP Chiwenga.

Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, talked about the country’s response and called on the conference to come up with innovative ways to deal with health challenges facing the continent.

“Zimbabwe’s response to HIV/AIDS has been resilient over the years, offering best practices in HIV treatment as well as domestic financing which has led to continuous reduction of disease burden and the achievement of the 95-95-95 targets,” said Dr Mombeshora.

“Despite achieving these targets, we know our way to the top is still far away. Although new infections continue to occur, it has become difficult to identify them and that is why we are innovating the various risk and cohort-based mechanisms targeting most at risk groups.

“We are also focusing on addressing inequalities and promoting inclusion so that we leave no one behind,” said Dr Mombeshora.

He assured delegates that Zimbabwe’s health system was on high alert to address health concerns which might be triggered by the conference or arise during the course of the conference.

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