UN commends Zim for managing HIV

Harare May 24, 2012 (New Ziana) – It remains mysterious that the Zimbabwe government managed to stabilize the AIDS pandemic at a time the country is going through economic hardships, a United Nations official said on Thursday.
Zimbabwe has managed to sustain pole position in the response to HIV and AIDS in Africa despite the harsh economic hardships the country experienced over the past decade.
The country has reduced the HIV prevalence rate from 33 percent in 1999 to 18.1 in 2006 and to the current 13, 6 percent.
UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe was addressing the inaugural GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa high level meeting held in Harare which gathered women Parliamentarians, leading African women entrepreneurs, civil society and development partners.
Sidibe said it “Zimbabwe has been able to increase by more than 50 percent the number of people in need of treatment,” he said.
He commended the government for coming up with home- based initiatives to fight HIV and AIDS.
“Zimbabwe managed with the difficulties to introduce Aids levy, the best ever initiative in Africa,” he said adding that at a local clinic he visited on Wednesday 95 percent of expecting women gave birth to HIV free babies as a result of PMTCT programmes.
Sidibe however said Africa’s progress on HIV and AIDS management remained stagnant for as long as violence against women continued to be perpetrated.
“We need a new model of development in which women have greater control in life,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion visiting UN Human Rights envoy Dr Navi Pillay said lack of respect for women remained a Human rights issue in Africa.
Nigeria’s Finance Minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iwela said women are a resource which if invested into will contribute to economies of nations.
“Any country that does not invest in women and girls is neglecting investing in its own economy.
Í believe we can make progress in Africa but we have to be serious about investing in women and girls,” she said.
The two-day meeting brought together women leaders to advance empowerment and gender equality through HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights responses.
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozane Khupe, AU Commission deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha, UN Human Rights envoy Dr Navanethem Pillay, Nigeria Finance Minister Ngozi- Okonjo- Iwela and several other ministers from across the continent attended the meeting.
The meeting is running under the theme –“Accelerating Action for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in the area of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Getting to Zero in Africa deaths.”
The aim of the GlobalPOWER Women Network is to establish networks among women leaders and parliamentarians to share experiences and approaches to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
DPM Khupe is the current president of the Network.
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