Briefcase HIV Organizations Causing Havoc In HIV Coordination Says NAC

THE National Aids Council (NAC) has vowed to restore sanity in the HIV response sector by capacitating the Zimbabwe Nationwide Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) which was mandated at the initial stages of the HIV pandemic in Zimbabwe to coordinate community participation and involvement in the HIV response.

By Michael Gwarisa

Speaking to HealthTimes in an interview, NAC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Bernard Madzima said currently there was chaos in the HIV response at the back of mushrooming organisations purporting to be representing the PLHIV community.

ZNNP+ needs support in terms of equipment, it needs support in terms of their structures, it needs support in terms of their regulatory role. We need to see if they have a database and how they can be supported to make sure that all the activities whether they are being supported by the National Aids Council (NAC) or by UNAIDS or UNDP or any partner for that matter, they come through ZNNP+.

“As NAC, we stand by wanting to make sure that the coordination role of ZNNP+ is restored. We have to because if we don’t do that, we are going to be in a situation where we have people or organizations which will be purporting to be saying they are supporting the 1.3 Million people living with HIV in the country but if you then go onto the ground, you might find it is not as it is being purported to be,” said Dr Madzima.

He added that juts like any sector, the HIV response needs a regulatory authority to ensure that there is one reporting structure, one coordination mechanism and a Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E) tool.

“People should be paying subscriptions and anyone who wants to work in that sector should go through the regulatory authority and should also go through the coordination authority. That way, we can bring sanity to the sector and as NAC, we are ready to help the board of ZNNP+, the executive and management to make sure that they play their role.

“It can only be to the advantage of Zimbabwe and the sector if the role of ZNNP+ is restored. Otherwise as it stands, I am seeing some gaps which need to be dealt with without fear or favor.

“We need to tackle this as the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), as NAC as UNAIDS, as UNDP to make sure that we plug all the holes which maybe people with their own intentions have been using to circumvent the role of ZNNP+. It’s an important institution in the country and we need it strengthened and supported.”

According to Dr Madzima, when the pandemic started in the early 90s, one of the key aspects which was identified was the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in the response and ZNNP+ was tasked with the duty of coordinating that but as more community-based support groups privatized and others became Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), confusion now reigns supreme in the sector.

“This was because most of the interventions then were actually centered around behavior change, activities and raising awareness and advocacy issues because remember there were no Antiretroviral (ARVs) then. It became important that those people who were living with HIV became part of the response and their organisations were community based.

“For Zimbabwe, that reaslisation happened very early when the pandemic started and that realization led to the formation of the ZNNP+ as the coordinator of that sector supporting the various support groups which were in the community. As the epidemic evolved in terms of treatment and management, the advent of ARVs and also some of the support groups becoming private entities or becoming civil society, the coordination role of ZNNP+ got mixed up along the way,” said Dr Madzima.

He added that even though the ZNNP+ is the one which should be coordinating that sector, it is currently incapacitated and it needs support to ensure it regains its mojo and start working towards coordinating the sector juts like in the old days.

 

 

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