HEALTH and Child Care minister, Dr Obhadia Moyo has made a call to treasury to at least grant the National Aids Council (NAC) a preferential interbank rate which allows them to access foreign currency in bulk in order to facilitate procurement of life saving Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) drugs.
By Michael Gwarisa recently in Masvingo
Dr Moyo made the plea at the 2019 World Aids Day (WAD) commemorations at Mucheke stadium in Masvingo. Officiating at the event, Dr Moyo bemoaned the absence of adequate foreign currency to purchase drugs from foreign sources which he says could reverse the gains that have already been attained in combating the epidemic.
Let me talk about talk the need for more resources to support the response. Funding for the response remains a major challenge as we grapple with the economic set back occasioned by poor productive and critically low levels of foreign currency.
“I have been informed that the National Aids Council (NAC) collects millions of dollars but have challenges in accessing foreign currency to procure critical HIV and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) drugs and commodities. I am therefore appealing to government to prioritize allocation of foreign currency to NAC to ensure that they do not delay buying the requirements before the money loses value,” said Dr Moyo.
The National Aids Council is currently getting foreign currency allocation at the prevailing interbank rate which is not significant enough for procuring lifesaving drugs. According to NAC Finance Director, Mr Godfrey Muzari they ZW$85 million up to September from the AIDS Levy but all that is translating into just handful US dollars.
Zimbabwe is one of the sub-Saharan African countries with the greatest access to antiretroviral treatment (ART), with 84% of all people living with HIV on treatment.
Zimbabwe is scaling up viral load testing, which is key to measuring viral suppression. This expansion is partly due to South Africa leveraging its market weight to reduce viral load testing prices to a maximum of US$ 9.40 per test, making it more affordable for low and middle income countries.60 However, budgetary issues, weak infrastructure and capacity challenges means viral load testing is far from routine, and existing facilities are mostly located in cities