Source: ARVs boost for children on therapy | The Herald 02 SEP, 2019
Tapiwa Mutizamhepo Herald Reporter
Government has partnered Johnson & Johnson through its New Horizons project that seeks to ensure that children who are resistant to the first and second line anti-retroviral treatment, have access to third line treatment.
The collaboration is expected to benefit 28 children and 63 adolescents currently on third line treatment in the country.
According to Johnson & Johnson, US$20 276 per year is required for treating an adolescent who has developed resistance to second line treatment.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Agnes Mahomva at an on-boarding workshop held in Harare on Thursday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the development was part of wider efforts to improve treatment coverage rate for children and adolescents.
“Today we are gathered here for the on- boarding of the New Horizons Advancing Paediatric HIV Care initiative launched in 2014 in responde to lack of availability of second and third line anti-retroviral options for children and adolescents in resource limited settings such as Zimbabwe,” Dr Moyo said.
“We know that all children and adolescents living with HIV should access lifelong anti-retroviral as per the World Health Organisation recommendations to treat all.
“As you may all be aware, Zimbabwe adopted this recommendation in 2016 and has been implementing, but with a treatment rate of only 57,5 percent for children, it is clear that we are doing a disservice to our children. This must change as we move towards the super-fast treatment for children of 95 percent treatment coverage in line with the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework which Zimbabwe launched in 2016.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Johnson & Johnson’s senior director Global Public Health Ms Usheema Maraj said the initiative is part of her organisation’s effort to improve the access to ART by children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa
“We are absolutely delighted to be here this morning to on-board Zimbabwe into the new collaborative programme which is aimed at improving paediatric HIV care to children and adolescents living with HIV in countries with the highest burden of access to sustainable, high quality and appropriate anti-retroviral therapy,” said Ms Maraj.
The on-boarding of Zimbabwe into the initiative is expected to accelerate the country’s National Aids Strategy of ending Aids by 2030. Other countries participating in the programme include Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda.