ENDING AIDS by 2030 remains a pipedream for Zimbabwe if the current scenario whereby majority of funding for healthcare if coming from international donor organizations, top HIV and AIDS advocates have said.
By Patricia Mashiri
Zimbabwe has made significant strides towards reducing new HIV infections and deaths over the years through support from global partners such as the PEPFAR, The Global Fund (GF) and others. However, emerging health issues such as the COVID-19 coupled with donor fatigue could see donors gradually shifting focus towards other issues.
Addressing a 2021 World AIDS Day Science Media Café that was organized by the Health Communicators Forum (HCF) in Harare, Angeline Chiwetani, Director for Zimbabwe HIV and AIDS Activists Union Community Trust (ZHAU-CT) said the signs of donor fatigue are already showing and there was need for strong local funds mobilization strategy.
85% of health fund is coming from external partners. What will happen if the donors decide to cut off the funding? There is need for a transitional plan. Currently we have been noticing that funding has been slowly shifting from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19.
“Nurses are leaving the country for greener pastures. Our health facilities are overwhelmed. There is shortage of human resources. Our government should unfreeze posts and employ more health care providers as this has a great impact on the nation,” said Chiwetani.
Chiwetani urged journalists to report and push on what’s happening, to hold government accountable.
“We cannot do advocacy in silos but we should come together and make sure that our community voices are heard through the media. When it comes to access to treatment this is where we need to come together.. We have different key groups that we can not leave behind. If we leave them behind then we will not get to the targets.
“We always go by the United Nations and World Health Organization targets. We would want to make sure that we see if there are improvements in whatever we do as a country with regards to health. At some point, you go to facilities and there is no medication but because people have normalized it, we don’t report. If I raise a red flag and I don’t see journalists coming to me then something is wrong,” said Chiwetani.
Meanwhile, Tariro Kutadza, an HIV/TB Officer Advocate urged journalists to report about the COVID-19 vaccines such that people will be vaccinated and protect themselves against COVID-19.
“I have noticed that people in communities do not have enough information concerning vaccines. They are used to take their kids to what they term ‘baby clinic’ not aware that they will be taking them to get their vaccines. Let’s explain them in simple terms that vaccines have been there and they are safe for everyone, “said Kutadza.