Space creation project to improve HIV treatment

Staff Reporter

, Feature

The finalization of the Space Creation Project that has been ongoing for the past 3 years will accelerate the decentralization and improvement in Opportunistic Infection/Antiretroviral Treatment (OI/ART) programme currently being rolled out by Government in efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.

By Kudzanai Gerede

The Space Creation Program which is being spearheaded the Ministry of Health and Child Care with the financial assistance of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC/Zimbabwe) have seen the installation of 159 OI/ART porta-cabins nationwide in five phases since January 2013 with a total cost of US$ 5.9 million.

Each porta-cabin has three rooms for consultation; counseling and a pharmacy equipped with basic furnishing and is connected to local utilities for electricity and water. The detachment of the porta-cabin from the main health facility is to ensure HIV clients receive services in an environment that is confidential, safe and dignified.

Most of the country’s health facilities were built before the onset of the HIV epidemic hence lack desirable facilities for comprehensive HIV/OI services.

“Space has been a challenge in provision of comprehensive, confidential and quality HIV/OI services in some of our health facilities. This donation of porta-cabin clinics has gone a long way in alleviating these challenges,” said Dr Owen Mugurungi, Director AIDS and TB Programme in the Ministry of Health and Child  Care.

The porta-cabins were successfully installed and furnished in Mashonaland Central, East and West; Matebeleland North and South, Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Harare and are in line with Government envisioned “Treat All” policy of decentralizing provision of health care across the country to ensure accessibility to treatment particularly HIV patients on OI/ART.

Speaking at the launch of the final phase of the Space Creation Project at Glenview Poly Clinic this Wednesday, Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa was grateful of the US support in improving the health system through various initiatives at a time the ministry was grappling with budgetary deficiencies to meet its health services obligations.

“It is the right of each patient to be treated with dignity, with confidentiality and in privacy. The donation of 19 porta-cabins by CDC will assist the Harare City Department to meet this objective,”

“I’m happy that we are decentralizing medical offer to various health institutions, I know at Mabvuku Poly Clinic they are now doing caesarian births services and other services which were only accessible at major hospitals and this is something we want to do with OI/ART services as we combat the scourge of HIV,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

The recently launched Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for Zimbabwe (2016- 2018) found that the health sector cost structure is skewed with high recurrent Government expenditure and remains centralized. This has hardened access to quality and efficient health care for people living in satellite areas.

Government is currently seized with implementing the UNAIDS 90-90-90 approach to ending the HIV epidemic that entails to have 90 percent of all people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of those knowing their HIV status be on life saving ART and 90 percent of those on ART should have undetectable viral load.

In line with World Health Organisation (WHO) 2015 guidelines, Zimbabwe is now adopting a “Treat All” approach where all people living with HIV will be eligible for ART with Harare being one of the pilot areas for the implementation of this strategy having realized the number of people living with HIV has risen significantly with a prevalence rate of 18 percent.

The continued cooperation between the US and Zimbabwean government in the areas of health is expected to go a long way in achieving these goals to combat HIV with the US ambassador, Mr Harry Thomas Jnr pledging financial support to the tune of US$ 135 million towards the health sector.

“Through the President’ s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States government will continue our commitment to support the national response to HIV and AIDS by providing US$ 135 million over the next twelve months for health programmes in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The health minister also applauded the city council for promulgating the Community health insurance scheme in order to ensure communities are assured of medical assistance in these tough economic times.

“We welcome the Community health Insurance Scheme being championed by Harare City Council as we all know sickness come unheralded without preparation for medical expenses which is often very overwhelming for most of citizens as we know we are living under a harsh economic environment,”said Dr Parirenyatwa.