ZIMBABWE has released its 2020 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report which shows that the country is itching closer to epidemic control despite a myriad of challenges threatening to reverse the gains achieved so far, chief among them being the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Michael Gwarisa
Addressing a Press Conference where he presented on GAM and progress made so far, National AIDS Council (NAC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Benard Madzima said the country achieved tits 90-9090 targets and the results from the GAM estimates also tallies with the ZIMPHIA results that were released recently.
This year’s report coincides with the end of the Fast Track target 2020. Again, Zimbabwe has managed to meet the deadline for submission of this year’s report which is 31st March 2021. For the purpose of GAM reporting, HIV estimates outputs were used since this is the requirement.
“As you will soon learn, the report shows that we have dramatically succeeded in bending the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic, and achieved all the three 90s. I am glad to say that this has also been confirmed by the recent ZIMPHIA whose results are now out. These achievements have emboldened us to pursue the 95-95-95 as we inch towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” said Dr Madzima.
Zimbabwe has been pursuing the 90-90-90 fast track targets until the end of 2020, which sought to sharpen the country’s focus on diagnosing people with HIV, linking them to ART and supporting them to achieve virologic suppression as a means to reduce global HIV infections to 500 000 per year.
“In order to monitor progress towards these targets, a framework of core indicators was developed to reflect the new targets and elimination commitments. To this end, the Declaration requests that the UN Secretary General reports to the General Assembly on progress in implementation, in accordance with the global reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The Global AIDS Monitoring Report therefore comes in that sense and is one of the main HIV and AIDS progress monitoring tools that we use. It provides information on national programmes and scale-up of priority health sector interventions for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, including intervention for women and children. The report also outlines the financial support for HIV and AIDS intervention programmes.”
According to GAM estimates, the HIV Incidence was 0.27 (0.24-0.65) and the ZIMPHIA reported an 0.45 (0.24-0.65). There was no significance difference in incidence reported in PHIA and HIV estimate.
“The highest incidence rate was recorded in Bulilima and Mangwe while Mbire and Muzarabani recorded the lowest. Absolute number of new infection were highest in Harare and Bulawayo and lowest in Mbire and Rushinga. The highest prevalence was recorded in Tsholotsho – 21.9% and the lowest in Binga – 5.3%,” said Dr Madzima.
Speaking on how the country attained the 90-90-90 targets, Dr Madzima said the country implemented an integrated HTS model, which deployed different testing approaches for different populations.
“The approaches included facility-based testing (provider initiated and client-initiated testing and counselling), facility and community-based index testing, HIV self-testing and targeted mobile outreach testing. HTS is offered in several primary healthcare sites including TB, ANC, STI and MNCH.
“It is also integrated into other prevention services such as VMMC, PrEP, PEP and is part of the package for the DREAMS initiative for AGYW. 89% of the districts achieved the first 90. The lowest knowledge of status was recorded in Gokwe North – 77.4% while Hurungwe recorded the highest at 98.1%.”
Through Decentralization of ART, scaling up ART coverage amongst a hots of other initiatives, Zimbabwe has also manged to meet its 90-90-90 targets.
“Overall ART coverage is currently at 91.1%, adults 94.1% Children at 71.8%, the highest ART coverage was recorded in Hurungwe and Mazowe at 97.1% while the lowest was recorded in Gokwe North (76.4%). All districts accept for Gokwe North has an ART coverage of more than 81%.”
Meanwhile, there was also an increase in Mother To Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV rate between 2019 and 2020, and this may be as a result of decline in Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) coverage that was caused by disruption of services.