Zimbabwe has received US$ 504 million to fight against HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria, the diseases that the government accused of damaging the country’s workforce, reversing development and retarding the economic growth. The funding was donated by the Global Fund to the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Speaking during the grant launch of the fund in Harare yesterday the Minister of Health Dr. David Parirenyatwa said US$483 million also will be used to build resilience and sustainable health systems.
“I am so glad that when it comes to HIV we have been partnering together. Let us continue with that partnership,” said Parirenyatwa.
Since 2002, Zimbabwe has received more than US$ 1 billion in the health sector.
Amongst the three diseases, HIV and AIDS have claimed more lives in Zimbabwe with the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha being on record stating that loss of manpower as the major challenge to the government.
“The mining sector and engineering sector are the some of the sectors that have been tremendously affected by labor losses due to HIV and AIDS. Active and able bodied people in their productive stages have been decimated by the pandemic. The results of that have been all around us. We have lost colleagues resulting in a reversal of developmental gains that the country recorded over the years,” Bimha is quoted saying on state owned press.
“In addition to the death, there has been a lot of absenteeism and sick leave and in that process our employees have lost a lot of money. The employers have had to expend huge sums of money on sick leave payments, medical aid costs, funeral costs, recruitment and retraining costs”
The country, which has the sixth highest HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa, has 1.3 million people living with the virus in 2016 according to statistics. Statistics show that new HIV infections dropped from 58 thousand to 35 thousand in 2017 and mother to child transmission down to 5 percent from 65 percent.
Zimbabwe had 22 deaths per day from TB in 2015 with 28,225 new cases. 2016 records also show that there are more than 400 thousand malaria cases among all age groups each year in Zimbabwe.
The launch of the Global Fund grant to Zimbabwe was attended by the United Nations (UN)Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe Bishow Parajuli and embassies of Britain, France and United States of America.
Parajuli said that the funding will be used in the next two years for the fight against the three diseases. The French ambassador Ricgard Boidin said that France, which will be the third largest donor to Zimbabwe this year after Britain and the US will always stand with Zimbabwe in the fight against diseases.
The US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry K. Thomas Jr, commended Zimbabwe’s success in breaking the HIV whilst Annabel Gerry, Head of DFID representing British ambassador raised concern on how the three diseases were negatively impacting women in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was one of the first countries to start an AIDS fund. The country has however been facing challenges in following the Abuja declaration which states that 15 percent of the budget must go to health.