BY TATENDA CHITAGU/VANESSA GONYE
ZIMBABWE’S gains from the Global Fund’s efforts to fight HIV and Aids and tuberculosis (TB) are on a downward spiral due to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to take its toll.
The Global Fund provides 21% of international financing for HIV programmes and 73% for TB as well as 56% for malaria programmes.
Global Fund Advocates Zimbabwe focal person Itai Rusike yesterday said the Global Fund had been a game-changer in addressing inequalities and contributing to access to HIV, TB and malaria services as well as strengthening health systems.
He made the remarks during Global Fund’s 20th anniversary commemorations.
The celebrations saw the handover of a torch caravan, which will be passed among 20 countries until December 2021. Zimbabwe was handed over the torch by South Africa on Friday.
“We celebrate Global Fund’s 20 years of impact in Zimbabwe. Global Fund has helped save lives. This torch is a reminder of lives saved and also the work that still remains undone. During this caravan, we will have a number of activities here in Zimbabwe. We will then hand over the torch to Malawi,” Rusike said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has transitioned out of the global list of high burden countries for tuberculosis (TB), according to a new list released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO, in a Press release posted on its website, said the new list for HIV-associated TB and multi-drug rifampicin resistant TB (MDR/RR-TB) is for the years 2021 to 2025.
In the 30 high TB burden countries, Cambodia, Russia and Zimbabwe have transitioned out of the list, while Gabon, Mongolia and Uganda have joined the list.
For the 30 high TB/HIV burden countries, Angola, Chad, Ghana and Papua New Guinea have exited the list while Gabon, Guinea, Philippines and the Russian Federation have joined the list.
Stop TB Zimbabwe chairperson Ronald Rungoyi said: “It also indicates a reduction in people who are dying of TB in Zimbabwe. This is as a result of continuous effort by the government through the National TB control programme as well as stakeholders who are involved in the management of TB in Zimbabwe, providing the necessary support and interventions needed to end TB.”
He said health institutions needed relevant equipment to improve infection control mechanisms.