'We are on track to end paediatric Aids'

ZIMBABWE has joined the battle to end pediatric Aids by 2020, with the country expediting efforts to reduce the rate of mother to child transmission of the HIV virus.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa (pictured), who attended a meeting on paediatric Aids in the Vatican City, said the country, whose rate currently stands at seven percent, was on the right track to make sure infected mothers will not pass the infection to babies.

“We have gone a long way, we have now said, and questioned, when can we end HIV, the stipulation by the Sustainable Development Goals had been for 2030, but after the Vatican we have pulled it down to 2020. So now the target is to say, can we end pediatric HIV by 2020.

“We have done very well here in Zimbabwe, one of the best things we have done is to prevent the infection of the new born child from an infected mother, what is called PMTCT, where a mother who is HIV-positive will make sure that the child they deliver is HIV-negative, and on that we have done extremely well.

“We are now at seven percent of transmission. The country that has done well is Cuba, which has zero transmission from mother to child. We are at seven percent we are all aiming at zero, if we get to five percent we would have achieved what we call prevention of mother to child. So, Zimbabwe has done extremely well.”  

The ambitious FastTrack Strategy agreed by ministers in world Health ministers to scale up effective treatment for children living with HIV will be launched at the High Level Meeting in New York next week.

However, Zimbabwe has hurdles on its way to achieve the target, among them being lack of access to health facilities in rural areas, where some mothers fail to access antenatal care and give birth at home.

Another thing that has crippled the health sector in the country is the dearth of funding as the country is heavily dependent on donors and partners to support the health sector.

Among the options to scale up effective treatment for children living with HIV, the meeting according to Parirenyatwa also advocated for countries to increase its funding towards health services.

Health experts and health ministers also resolved to look into how individual countries  can mobilise resources for health.

“One was that our own focus should be able to provide a solid base into health funding, the private sector and then donors and funders are the last option because they can opt out anytime,” said Parirenyatwa.

“Another thing discussed was Anti-microbial resistance which has ravaged the world, people are now getting resistant to some of the anti-biotics we have. And that resistant drug can spread, we are also going to be choosing a new World Health director-general, and the politics of choosing that was also on the floor.” —Bridget Mananavire

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