hiv

Generally, the topic today is HIV/Aids. Be it at the workplace in homes, schools sporting tournaments etc.
No individuals in Zimbabwe can stand up and claim that they are not affected by the epidemic. They may not be infected themselves but, one or more of their relatives is infected, hence in a way they are affected.


No one can also stand up and say he/she does not have relatives particularly minor ones who are now being looked after by relative because the parents died as a result of AIDS. This also reveals that we are all affected by the single largest killer disease in the country today.
Faced with this frightening challenge the government of Zimbabwe created the National Aids Council in 1999.
After the discovery of the first case of HIV and Aids in 1985, the government reacted by implementing various programmes aimed at mitigating the epidemic, among them the screening of blood for HIV before transfusion that same year, which was followed later in 1987 by a one-year Emergency Short Term Plan (ESTP) aimed at creating awareness and training of health personnel in different aspects of HIV prevention and control of HIV and AIDS.
In 1993, the Medium Term Plan (MTP1) was adopted focusing on expanding interventions for promoting appropriate behavior change among target population groups, caring for people living with HIV and AIDS and monitoring the epidemic through epidemiological surveillance.
Soon after the discovery of the epidemic in 1985 and before the formation of the National aids Council, various groups came up with different mitigatory measures, but this created some gaps as their as it ended up with duplication of services and lack of monitoring and evaluation of their work, a gap which was later filled by NAC.
This was done trough the review of MTP1, leading to the development of a five-year Medium Term Plan MTP2 in 1994 which was formulated based on the multi-sectoral response approach. This was done after the government had realized and prioritized the need and importance of bringing together other sector players to participate as partners in the response to the pandemic.
In June 2004, the first-ever national HIV and AIDS conference was held and recommended the development of the Zimbabwe National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (ZINZSP) covering the period 2006-2010.
In line with its mandate, the National AIDS Council has since its inception developed guiding national policies which have been reviewed in response to emerging trends.
Specific strategies to guide strategic programmes to prevent new HIV infections, increase access and utilization to treatment and care services, improve support for individuals, families and communities, including orphans and other vulnerable children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS have been developed and are being utilized.
Since the first case of AIDS in Zimbabwe was identified in 1985 and the problem and impact of HIV and AIDS has continued to grow at an alarming rate.
Information made available to this writer by the National AIDS Council indicates that an estimated 1.8 million Zimbabweans out of 12 million are living with HIV whose prevalence is 24.6 percent in the 15-49 age groups.
The information also states that 90 percent of the infected are not aware of their status whilst 600 000 of those carrying the HIV virus have the signs and symptoms of AIDS and require varying degrees of care and support.
Girls in the 15-19 age group are most vulnerable to HIV infection. An average of 2 500 people per week are dying as a result of HIV/AIDS.
According to the same literature made available to this writer, 60-70 percent of under five years old deaths are a result of HIV and AIDS.
Due to the effects of AIDS, life expectancy has fallen from 62 years in 1990 to the current 43 years whilst incubation period from acquiring of HIV to full-blown AIDS is 5-10 years. Mother to child transmission rate is standing at between 30-40 percent.
The National AIDS Council has also formulated some principles and strategies that guide its response to HIV and AIDS. The national response to HIV and AIDS is guided by the National HIV and AIDS policy of 1999 and the National Strategic Framework 2000-2004 which provide the national guidelines for HIV and AIDS practice.
The National AIDS Council (NAC) was established through the National AIDS Council Act Chapter 15:14 of 2000 for the response of coordinating, facilitating, mobilizing, supporting and monitoring a decentralized national Multi-Sectoral response to HIV and AIDS in accordance with the Zimbabwe Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS interventions (2000-2004). NAC is tasked with the statutory responsibility of administering the National AIDS Trust Funds (NATF) collected through the AIDS Levy, being 3 percent collected from every PAYE subscriber and corporate tax.
In 2001 NAC has decentralized structures for the national response comprising Provincial AIDS Action Committees (PAACs), District AIDS Action Committees (DAACs), Ward AIDS Action Committees (WAACs), Village AIDS Action Committees (VAACs).
NAC work with some partners in the multi-sectoral response initiative for HIV and AIDS which include government, Development Agencies, Local Authorities, NGOs, Civil Society, Community Based Organisations, Communities, Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) and Donor Agencies.
Because NAC’s approach is community-driven and bottom up process, activities come directly from the communities. VAACs identify household and community needs and define targeting, then they submit their resource plans to the WAACs who assess and consolidate the submissions into WAAC plans and financial plans. These are then brought DAACs and consolidated into DAAC plans and work plans which are subsequently consolidated into PAAC plans and eventually composite NAC work plan.
The AIDS Levy funds are meant for every citizen of Zimbabwe. The funds are meant for programmes that bring about national HIV and AIDS Awareness and Behavior Change and mitigation impact on people infected with and affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
However, in its endeavor to deliver quality service to its clients NAC has faced many challenges chief among them difficulties in bringing different stakeholders to work together; limited capacity in NAC and delivery structure both human, financial and technical.
It has also faced problems with limited multi-sector response framework experiences and lessons leant due to lack of sharing information by players; overwhelming demands and needs to be met with limited resources; fighting stigma and discrimination as well as absence of harmonized standards and practice.
The National Response Initiative to the HIV and AIDS pandemic has so far provided the following important good practice and lessons which include the creation of functional AIDS Council, decentralized framework, creation of ownership for the National Response Initiative, creating a sustainable resource base, mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS as well as functioning through tried and tested delivery structures.

 

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