Director, AIDS and TB Programme in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr. Owen Mugurungi says 96 percent of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) are still on the first line regimen owing to comprehensive HIV treatment and prevention efforts by government and development partners towards fighting the epidemic.
By Michael Gwarisa
Addressing delegates at the handover of new ART sites and Pharmacy stores in the capital, Dr Mgurungi said Zimbabwe had made strides in reducing the impact of the epidemic and improving ART adherence standards.
“Although Zimbabwe is one of the Sub-Saharan African countries with a severe burden of HIV and AIDS and TB, significant progress has been made nationally towards reducing the epidemic. The prevalence of HIV has decreased from 18.1 percent in 2005, to 13.8 percent in 2016.
“The incidence has decreased to 0.48 percent in 2016. The decline in prevalence and incidence is attributed to successful implementation of prevention strategies especially behavior change, high condom use and reduction in multiple sexual partners. HIV prevalence is beginning to plateau due to improved survival linked to improved ART coverage,” said Dr Mgurungi.
Government introduced antiretroviral therapy into the public sector in 2004 at a time when AIDS mortality was very high.
“The country has significantly decentrilised HIV care with bulk of clients accessing services at primary health care level. Currently, there are 1, 722 health facilit8ies in Zimbabwe and 91 percent of these offer free ART services.
“To date, there are 1,4 million living with HIV in Zimbabwe. More than a million are on ART. About 96 percent of the patients on ART are on the fist line. The OI/ART infection program has been guided nationwide Scale up of ART plans covering periods 2005-2007,2008-2012 and the latest being the overarching extended Zimbabwe National AIDS Strategic Plans (ZNASP) coordinated by one body, NAC and monitored by one monitoring framework-the ‘Three Ones Principle,” added Dr Mgurungi.
Zimbabwe however still remains burdened by TB, Multi Drug resistant TB as well as TB/HIV coinfection. The Global Fund has provided grants to support the ministry of health in improving infection prevention and control (IPC) in healthcare facilities nationwide.
“The project to reduce TB infections in OI sites started on July, 1 2016 and ended on 31 December 2017. The project targeted 40 health facilities in all provinces that were identified by the ministry of health for construction and renovation.
“The scope of works included the construction of waiting area, electrical installation and connections including fittings to the waiting area. Some OI facilities had their existing OI facilities renovated by supply and installation of new doors and windows, replacement of damaged ceilings, repair to roofs, walls and floors. Boreholes were drilled in selected sites. About 370 benches were installed for all facilities where waiting areas were required.”