THE United States, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (or PEPFAR), is using at least $150,000 USD to help with COVID-19 prevention measures in Zimbabwe specifically targeted at people living with HIV.
By Michael Gwarisa
This PEPFAR funding includes the purchase of soap, buckets, hand washing stations and hand sanitizer for supported facilities, and the reproduction of COVID-19 communication materials to be shared at supported facilities and through faith and community networks around Zimbabwe. Three PEPFAR clinical implementing partners, OPHID, I-TECH and ZACH, will carry out the activities.
In a statement, the United States Embassy in Zimbabwe said the move would assist those living with HIV as part of their commitment to continue advancing treatment and care services to this vulnerable group.
The United States is committed to continued care and treatment for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Zimbabwe. PLHIV who are not on treatment or virally suppressed may be at greater risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. All PLHIV need to take precautions, including keeping at least three-months supply of ARVs in their homes, washing hands frequently, practicing social spacing and avoiding others who are sick.
“PEPFAR’s efforts supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic aim to ensure that PLHIV have the best possible outcomes within the context of over-stretched healthcare systems,” said the statement.
These funds are in addition to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s $470,000 contribution to the World Health Organization to support Zimbabwe’s fight against COVID 19, announced on March 27, 2020. Through this funding, the WHO will help with life-saving activities such as preparing laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19, implementing a public-health emergency plan for points of entry, and activating case-finding and evidence-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses.