VP Chiwenga calls for multi-sectoral participation in HIV fight
Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga has called for a multi- sectoral and all stakeholder participation in the drawing up and execution of the country’s HIV/AIDS plan as Government drives towards ending HIV/AIDS in Children by 2030.
VP Chiwenga made the call when he spoke at the first quarter 2023 national validation committee meeting on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and syphilis (EMTCT).
Zimbabwe, which has registered considerable progress on its national and international HIV/AIDS eradication commitments, will this year unveil a new national blueprint that will guide the country’s last lap in consolidating gains made and winning on outstanding aspects.
This comes as the country has successfully implemented its MTCT (2018-2022) plan which saw antenatal care attendance rising to 90 percent although the target is at least 95 percent.
In line with participatory development thrust being championed by the Second Republic, Government has made strides to up step male participation in HIV/AIDS related issues for women, encouraged the participation of traditional and religious groupings as well as the family.
“The Zimbabwe plan for elimination of mother to child transmission (MTCT) of HIV and Syphilis covering the years 2018-2022 has ended, and my Ministry has already begun the process of developing the follow- on Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission plan covering the years 2023-2026,” said VP Chiwenga. “This will be a triple Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission plan encompassing elimination of vertical transmission of HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B.
“A consultant is already on board to lead this work, and the country should be ready to implement activities targeted at ending HIV, congenital syphilis and hepatitis B. I am looking forward to your valuable contribution and commitment to the finalisation of this plan that will guide our activities for the next four years,” he said.
VP Chiwenga also pointed gaps in the current intervention which he said going forward these should be addressed if Zimbabwe is to win its race towards EMTCT.
He also emphasized and lauded the important role being played by development partners and urged stakeholders to partake in partners led initiatives.
“Provincial Medical Directors have not managed to hold quarterly Provincial Validation Committee meetings consistently citing financial constraints,” said VP Chiwenga.
“As we begin 2023, I look forward to our implementing partners supporting the quarterly Provincial Validation Committee meetings.
“Pregnant and breastfeeding women are not being re-tested for HIV as recommended and we risk missing those who are newly infected. As you know, new HIV infections happening during pregnancy and lactation carry a very high risk of HIV transmission to infants.
“Worrying numbers of adolescent girls and young women are getting newly infected with HIV during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
“Our programmes should therefore offer differentiated services to these adolescents and young mothers in our programs.
“We should intensify efforts to scale up combination HIV prevention packages for them including use of PrEP,” said VP Chiwenga.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and several other international health organisations have lauded Zimbabwe’s trajectory in the fight against HIV/AIDS and its national health plan in general.
An adequate health system is at the centre of an empowered upper middle income economy as envisioned by President Mnangagwa.