Speaker of the National Assembly, the Dr. Patrick Matibini has welcomed the orientation seminar for Members of Parliament on the Zambia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZAMPHIA) survey, organized by the Ministry of Health, as progressive stating that it will help the parliamentarians to be equipped with enough information which they will, in turn, disseminate to their constituents.
Last month, the Ministry of Health has suspended the Zambia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment survey(ZAMPHIA) until after the community is fully sensitized about the program after many people on the ground wrongly linked the program to ritual killings.
The program has been linked to two major issues ravaging communities in Zambia, gassing and ritual killings. There are suspicions surrounding the drawing of blood for testing as most people believe the drawn blood is used in ritual killings.
Speaking at the Seminar taking place at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Dr. Matibini described the ZAMPHIA survey as a critical program especially that Zambia has a significant percentage of citizens living with HIV and many affected by the scourge.
Dr. Matibini stated that he was pleased to learn that the survey is intended to assess the HIV incidence at National and Provincial levels and that it will highlight the efforts of the Zambian Government and its Cooperating Partners in the control of the HIV pandemic.
“It is also opportune that the survey is being held at a time when the world is grappling with the HIV pandemic and aspiring to end AIDS by employing aggressively the UNAIDS 90 90 90 fast track targets which are to have 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of all diagnosed with HIV receive sustained ARV therapy and 90 percent of those on ART, achieve viral load suppression by 2020, ” he said.
Dr. Matibini stated that for Zambia to achieve the 90 90 90 lofty and noble targets, it is vital for Parliamentarians to be updated on the policy measures and actions being implemented by the government to control the pandemic by preventing and reducing new HIV infections whilst sustaining the health of those already infected with the scourge.
He took time to urge the Parliamentarians to taken advantage of the orientation to learn more about the ZAMPHIA survey and implored them to play an active role in disseminating the life serving information they would go away with from the seminar, to their communities.
And speaking at the same event, Health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya said HIV/AIDS is a major Public health challenge whose control, the Government of the Republic of Zambia, Under the able stewardship of His Excellency Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu has pitched as the 6th legacy goal in the nation’s health strategic plan 2017 to 2021.
He said to attain the goal, partnerships with strategic institutions and strategic allies are imperative in order to push for effective implementation of interventions.
He said the United States Government had over the years pushed in over 4 billion dollars into the fight against HIV /AIDS which has seen 1.1 million people on life-saving antiretroviral treatment out of the 1.2 million living with HIV.
He said an assessment of progress from the last one done in 2016 in order to inform policy direction and assess progress towards epidemic control was therefore very important.
He thanked the speaker for the support in ensuring that Parliament is on board the noble cause with the participation in the orientation seminar by the many parliamentarians that had turned up for the program.
He took time to thank the parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition parties for their support in pushing the health agenda, stating that health is bi partisan.