ZIMBABWEAN civil society organisations tackling HIV/AIDS have shown interest in ensuring that the country achieves universal health coverage ahead of the September penciled United Nations High Level Meeting on UHC.
By Kudakwashe Pembere in Kadoma
A consultation workshop to come up with a Civil Society Organisations’ position on UHC was organized by the UNAIDS and Zimbabwe Aids Network.
This commitment comes after an observation that health CSOs have not been as pro-active as they are when advocating for sexual reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.
In separate interviews on the sidelines of the workshop, it emerged that too much energy, and financial resources is being spent on HIV/AIDS while non communicable diseases are being neglected.
UNAIDS Zimbabwe Acting Country Representative Ms Mia Mumtaz said Zimbabwe’s health CSOs should be at the forefront at running with the UHC agenda.
“In Zimbabwe we have always been proactive in picking up agendas. But for UHCs we haven’t been able to do that. It’s like we have slowed down on UHC issues. So we need to pick up the pace on UHC around UHC for the continent but also globally,” she said.
UNAIDS Fast Track Advisor Ms Jane Batte said the easiest way to achieve UHC is through taking the HIV interventions route.
ZAN National Coordinator Mr Taurai Nyandoro acknowledged that despite the silence on other NCDs, they were doing something around Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“Our focus area has been TB and malaria. Right now we have started serious discourse on other NCDs and communicable diseases. So honestly engagements, discourses have just started to pick up. But we haven’t seen who is implementing these like diabetes for example.
“For Malaria, yes. There is a lot of progress happening around,” he said adding they are now broadening the scope of looking at health in broad terms. “We are shifting from that narrow focus of HIV only to broader health. That is the agenda that we are pushing as Zimbabwe Aids Network.”
NAC Monitoring and Evaluation director, Amon Mpofu said as an organisation they could replicate HIV interventions for UHC.
He said HIV just as a weakened immune system which comes with other opportunistic infections such as Cancer hence their organisation not turning a blind eye to the growing burden of neglected NCDs.
It was noted with concern by Dr Stanley Midzi from World Health Organisation Zimbabwe that it is easier for a person with HIV to have affordable quality health while one with NCDs struggles to get the same.
Jointed Hands Welfare Organisation executive director Mr Donald Tabaiwa said the silo approach in dealing with HIV is no longer feasible nowadays.
“HIV is not the only issue that people living with HIV are concerned with. There are If a person with HIV has diabetes it must be attended to. if he or she has BP it has to be attended to. So integration becomes critical. There are so many intersectionalities around a human being,” he said.
He added, “Zimbabwe has started the process of integration but we cannot say we are on course. This is positive because if we look at the Ministry of Health is integrated with a number of departments which feed into each other.”
A Health CSOs Charter for Zimbabwe will be drafted as the nation looks towards the UNHLM.