BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
The National Aids Council (NAC) says Zimbabwe has enough stocks of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to take the country through the year amid indications that most resources are being channelled towards the fight against Covid-19.
About 1,3 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV and 90% are on treatment.
At the height of the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak last year, there were fears that the stocks for the country’s second-line regimen ARV treatment were dwindling.
There were also fears that some people living with HIV were failing to access the medication due to the Covid-19-induced travelling restrictions.
However, speaking to journalists at the presentation of the Global Aids Monitoring Report in Harare last week, NAC CEO Bernard Madzima said all the contraints brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, including provision of HIV and Aids services, were now water under the bridge.
Madzima assured the nation that there would be enough ARV medication stocks for the year and going forward.
“As NAC, we contribute 20% of the ARV medication stock, but we are working with our partners Global Fund, USAid and NatPharm, among others, to make sure that the supply chain is not disrupted,” he said.
“Our projection is that we have enough stocks for the year and going forward.”
Madzima said the advent of Covid-19 and its burden on the health service delivery pointed to the need for the country to self-sustain itself and do away with the donor syndrome.
“We need to move away from this donor funding and increase domestic funding for our health sector. There is need to support local manufacturing of commodities; we can’t be seen importing things like syringes or even Paracetamol,” he said.
“We are happy that in the Health ministry people are coming up with policies that talk about capacitating the local manufacturing industry. Covid-19 taught us about this.”
The NAC boss highlighted that due to the Covid-19 restrictions, there were instances where shipments of medication and consumables would not come despite having paid for the goods.
He, however, said despite disruptions in the HIV, prevention and treatment programmes Zimbabwe had made giant strides in its quest to end Aids by 2030.
“The Global Aids Monitoring Report shows that we have dramatically succeeded in bending the trajectory of the Aids epidemic, and achieved all the three 90s,” Madzima said.
“I am glad to say that this has also been confirmed by the recent ZIMPHIA [Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment] whose results are now out.
“These achievements have emboldened us to pursue the 95-95-95 as we inch towards ending Aids as a public health threat by 2030.”
The three 90s approach was an agenda for quickening the pace of implementation, focus and change at the global, regional, country, province, district and city levels by 2020.
Madzima said the country’s HIV success story was a result of the comprehensive combination of high impact HIV prevention interventions, which included HIV testing services, prevention of mother-to-child infection, condom promotion and distribution, treatment as prevention, behaviour change and voluntary medical male circumcision.
According to the latest Global Aids Monitoring Report, the HIV prevalence rate in Zimbabwe is 11,9%.