Population Solutions for Health launches PREVENT program

Population Solutions for Health (PSH), and Populations Service International (PSI) on Monday hosted the Going the Last Mile for HIV Control closeout while launching the PREVENT program meant to protect the gains Zimbabwe has made in the fight against HIV pandemic.

By Nthokozo Gudu

PSH Executive Director and Managing Trustee, Dr Noah Taruberekera gave remarks and celebrated the successes of the Last mile program.

This event is about looking back and celebrating the successes of the US$101 million dollars Last Mile program funded by PEPFAR through USAID. This program was implemented through a partnership between PSI and PSH and many of our partners who are present today. The Last Mile program contributed to the Ministry of Health and Child Care vision of ending AIDS by 2030 and its implementation was thus guided by the ministry,” he said .

Speaking during the launch, Doctor Blessing Mutede, PREVENT Chief of party said their program seeks to support the Health Ministry in sustaining HIV epidemic control.

“PREVENT is a five year US$87.5M activity designed to support the Ministry of Health and Child Care in sustaining HIV epidemic control with a focus on serving those most at risk for acquiring HIV and those least likely to seek health and HIV prevention care and treatment services in traditional settings. Recognizing the growing challenge of drug and substance use, PREVENT will expand support for people use and inject drugs in a harm reduction approach,” said Doc Mutede.

He highlighted the mandate of the program in removing barriers to access life –saving prevention care.

“Operating in 22 districts ,the program seeks to meet these communities where they are and to cocreate solutions that remove barriers to accessing life-saving HIV prevention care and treatment services ,including barriers such as stigma and discrimination. This investment seeks to reduce strain on public sector services ,to bring care closer to communities, and to improve program sustainability by differentiating, de-medicalizing and decentralizing service delivery models by engaging the private sector, innovating in digital health,” he said.

Dr Mutede added, “PREVENT will mainstream essential cross cutting or horizontal elements of gender equity, positive youth development, and climate sensitivity across program implementation and ensure resilient programming through turbulent times as may be posed by man-made or natural disasters and a demanding operating environment,”

PREVENT Technical Director Dr Tafara Moga said they also shared the vision for serving men and boys holistically in the program.

“PREVENT wants to partner meaningfully with men ,to support them to play their part in sustaining epidemic control. This starts with understanding them better so we can help them prioritize their own health and tailor services to meet their needs where they are. We hope to go beyond serving men to helping them to play their essential role in health ,promoting health seeking behavior and removing barriers to access within their own families, allocating family resources to health,and avoiding harmful behaviours like intimate partner violence and violence against children,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Child Care(MoHCC) Permanent Secretary Dr A.J.V Maunganidze,Chief Director for Human Resources ,Dr Simon Nyadundu said the Government acknowledges the support from their partners in the contribution of different programs.

“According to UNAIDS ,Zimbabwe together with countries like Botswana, Eswatini, Rwanda and Tanzania have achieved the 95-95-95 fast track targets, this would not have been possible without a harmonized multi-sectoral response and collective efforts of our development partners,” he said.

Dr Maunganidze added, “The gains made in the HIV response feed into our National Health Strategy vision which remains the highest possible level of health and quality of life for Zimbabweans. We seek to shift from the vertical funding for health specific areas to a more horizontal response to make access easier, and to serve Zimbabweans more holistically.”

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