By Style Reporter
The National Aids Council (NAC) says the Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected its revenue base with the organisation last year collecting $1,4 billion (around US$19 million) from the Aids levy compared to an average of US$38 million around 2015.
Presenting a paper on HIV and Aids Funding in the Context of a Pandemic Within a Pandemic at a workshop for editors and station managers in Chinhoyi last week, NAC national accountant Godfrey Muzari said just like any other country, the Covid-19 pandemic brought economic activities to a near standstill in Zimbabwe as government imposed tight restrictions on movement to halt the spread of the virus.
“The negative growth rate affected the revenue base of many governments in Africa, which rely more on levying tax on companies and individuals,” Muzari said.
“In Zimbabwe the effects were more disastrous as the country was already facing an economic crisis. NAC was hit harder as the council’s main source of revenue is the Aids levy collections derived from the tax base.”
He said like any other sectors of the economy, HIV programming was also negatively affected by the prevention restrictions adopted by the government.
“Collection of medicines from health centres was very difficult,” Muzari said.
“Information dissemination was also a challenge as some of the methods were hard to reach areas.”
He said broadly, Covid-19 affected the NAC target population (people living with HIV and Aids) as they are part of the population classified as people with underlying conditions and at high risk.
Muzari said when the pandemic broke out, initially there were no resources set aside for that despite the great demand for that.
He said several measures were considered among them budget re-allocation, investing in high level intervention, integration of Covid-19 interventions into HIV and Aids, prioritisation of activities and pooled procurements.
NAC monitoring and evaluation director Amon Mpofu said Zimbabwe among other countries was expected to report on Global Aids Monitoring with this year’s report coinciding with the end of the fast-track target 2020.
He said Zimbabwe managed to meet the deadline for submission of this year’s report which was March 31, 2021.
Mpofu said Aids mortality in the country significantly declined by 71,9% from 488 in 2010 to 137 in 2020 per 100 000.
“There was a 28,6% reduction of Aids-related mortality from 2015 to 2020, which missed the ZNASP III objective of reducing HIV and Aids-related mortality by 50% for both adults and children by 2020,” he said.
Mpofu said the country was on track to reach the epidemic control phase if it continued to implement high impact geo-targeted interventions
He said the treatment cascade shows that the country achieved the 90-90-90 2020 fast-track targets and was now working towards the 95-95-95 targets for 2025
Meanwhile, an expert on disability issues, Professor Lincoln Hlatywayo, bemoaned the lack of HIV and Covid-19 materials and information in accessible formats such as sign language, captioning, visuals, DVDs and simplified English.
He said 98% of deaf persons do not understand vernacular languages, while over 95% of parents and guardians cannot communicate with deaf children/persons.
Hlatywayo also said there was lack of HIV and Covid terms in sign language and encouraged parents and communities to learns sign language while also advocating the need for the country to urgently ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.