Government has attributed the decline in Tuberculosis and HIV infection rate in the country to increased investments in TB diagnosis, treatment and stronger TB/HIV collaboration such as the scale up of Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) in the general population.
Speaking on behalf of the Health Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa at the handover ceremony of Anti-retroviral therapy ART site in Harare today, Principal Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Gibson Mhlanga said although there was a decline in TB/HIV co infection rates, the rates remain unacceptably high.
“TB/HIV co-infection rates in Zimbabwe have decline from 86% in 2009 to 72% in 2015 largely due to the effective roll-out of ART and TB preventive therapy, although there was a decline in TB/HIV co infection rates, the rates remain unacceptably high,
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care introduced Antiretroviral Therapy into the public sector in 2004 with the aim of reducing HIV related morbidity and mortality as well as improving the quality of life for people living with HIV in Zimbabwe. As a result of high commitment by government and its funding, technical and implementing partners at all levels the programme has expanded rapidly over the years from 5 sites in 2004 to 1,566 ART initiating sites December 2017,
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in partnership with UNDP provided infrastructural support for the renovation of 40 health facilities providing Antiretroviral Therapy with the aim of improving TB infection control among people living with HIV that are a high risk group for contracting TB disease,” explained Mhlanga.
Under the New Funding Model of the Global Fund HIV/AIDS grant in Zimbabwe, UNDP also supported the Health Ministry to strengthen the health systems. A total of 52 pharmacy stores were renovated to ensure that the storage conditions at Service Delivery Points are appropriate and also help with the quality of medicines when issued to patients.
Health Ministry can confirm the receipts of 40 renovated ART sites to improve TB infection control, 52 renovated Pharmacy stores, Air conditions for the renovated stores, Shelving for the renovated stores, Refrigerators and other essential commodities for the stores.
Speaking at the Handover Ceremony, UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli commended the leadership of the government and community for the role played in improving and harnessing the project.
“Funding from the Global Fund of over a billion dollars has helped with the project and I commend the leadership of the government, community and health staff for the role they played in this project,
“There has been an increase in the health budget which is a good step , the Finance Minister also promised to increase the health and education budget,” said Parajuli.
Aids and TB Unit Director, Dr Owen Mugurungi said the country has significantly decentralized HIV care with bulk of clients accessing services at primary health care level.
“Currently there are 1, 722 health facilities in Zimbabwe and 91% of these offer ART services, to date there are 1.4 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe,
“More than a million are on ART and about 96% of the patients on ART are on first line, therefore there is need to support ART sites to ensure infection control to reduce TB burden among HIV patients,” said Mugurungi.