THE Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) has launched a strategic plan which is set to guide their work as well as intensify communities capacity to respond to HIV at community level.
By Michael Gwarisa
Officiating at the strategic plan launch event which also coincided with the annual Candlelight Memorial to honor those who lost their lives due to HIV, deputy minister in the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Dr John Mangwiro said the ZNNP+ strategy would help accelerate government’s plans to boost local production of Antiretroviral viral drugs which will also address the issues of recurrent drugs shortages and stock-outs.
The strategic plan that is being launched today is a testament of the drive to live beyond the epidemic and position People living with HIV (PLLHIV) in their diversity at the center of all facets of development. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate ZNNP+ and all PLHIV who contributed in crafting a strategy that resonates with the national aspirations and development agenda of the nation.
“The commemoration of the candlelight memorial and the launch of the ZNNP+ strategic plan which will guide your work in the next five year is commended. The candlelight memorial is a day which as we look back today, we honor the ones who have left us as a result of HIV and thank them for having been a part of this world,” said Dr Mangwiro.
The 2020 candlelight memorial was held under theme, “We remember, we take action, we live beyond HIV.”
“The country indeed has been through a very difficult road since the first memorial was held in 1983. No one could have predicted the scale and impact of the global HIV epidemic that is now well into its third decade with millions of lives lost and 12 to 37 million people currently living with the HIV.”
He added that even though some countries have managed to control the HIV epidemic, it still remains a global challenge at the back of a myriad of factors such as poverty, lack of treatment, bad nutrition, HIV related stigma, discrimination and violence amongst a host of other issues.
“The memorial provides us with the opportunity to take stock of the significant progress that has been made to date in the response to HIV and AIDS in the country. We have a lot to be proud of as a country particularly the strides we have made in ensuring that the people living with HIV are on treatment. The government through the MoHCC and the National AIDS Council (NAC) and multilateral donors have ensured that over 1.1 million people living with HIV are on treatment.
“This means more people than ever before have a great chance at living longer, healthier and more productive lives. We applaud these efforts and we continue as a government to identify and engage the key stakeholders to ensure that people living with HIV continue to live well. The country and government has made significant strides and the agenda of the next five years is aptly espoused in the national health strategy and the National HIV and AIDS Strategic plan which both run from 2021 to 2025.”
He also said communities as well as communities of people living with HIV have a role to play in the realization of the objectives of the strategies and ultimately ending AIDS. He added that government, NAC and other partners are committed to ensuring that PLHIV have long productive lives and live beyond HIV.
Speaking at the same event on behalf of the UNAIDS Country Director Ms Monaco, PEPFAR/Global Fund Implementation Adviser at the UNAIDS Zimbabwe, Jane Kalwe0 said the ZNNP+ Strategic Plan was a noble initiative as it recognises communities of people living with HIV as key stakeholders in the epidemic control.
[pullquote]“The international AIDS candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network of People Living with HIV, is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness around the world.[/pullquote]
“We remember those who have died because of HIV. We recognize the importance of taking action for change and the recognition and affirmation that there is life beyond one’s status. As you launch the strategic plan for 2021 to 2025, we trust that we will be closer to achieving the 95-95-95,” said Kalweo.
Zimbabwe National Network Of People Living With HIV (ZNNP+) Executive Director, Mr Tatenda Makoni ZNNP+ said the implementation of the strategic plan will not be possible without support from government and partners.
“The strategy draws from the aspirations of people living with HIV in their diversity. Ladies and gentlemen, we are at the cusp of ending the HIV epidemic and the ZNNP+ seeks to be the conduit of that millstone.
“Guided by the national HIV and AIDS Strategic plan of 2021 to 2025, the National Health Strategy for 2021 to 2025, the ZNNP+ is result oriented in order for us to deliver the quality of services to beneficiaries, the community and also attainment of the 95-95-95 global target. As we honor the departed souls, we call all stakeholders to support the implementation of the strategic plan in order to realise the ambition it sets out.” said Mr Makoni.
Meanwhile, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) PLHIV Stigma Index advocacy officer Anna Sango said they were committed to ensuring that the ZNNP+ strategic plan becomes successful.
“As the Global Network of People Living with HIV, we are working with the global Network of People Living with HIV who are currently supporting several initiatives through different country networks and one of those country networks is the Zimbabwe Young Positives (ZY+) which is also hosted by the ZNNP+ who we are celebrating today as they launch their strategy.
“The work that they have been doing in trying to advance also push for access to services and for the attainment and full exercise of rights by adolescents and young people has been through the Ready Plus Project. The Ready Plus Project has been working with community adolescent treatment supporters who are supporting their peers within communities to be able to adhere to treatment to also be able to speak boldly about the work that they are doing and also about their issues as adolescents living with HIV,” said Anna.