Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Increasing new HIV infections have the potential to reverse the gains Zambia has made-Masebo

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Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo has warned that the increasing new HIV infections in Zambia have the potential to reverse the gains the nation has made in fighting the pandemic.

When launching the 15th Annual HIV/TB/Hepatitis B Technical Conference in Lusaka on Tuesday, Ms. Masebo said the newly released estimates of 28,000 new HIV infections per year are way too high.

She said the New Dawn government of President Hakainde Hichilema is concerned with new HIV infections especially among adolescents.

Ms. Masebo said in the past Zambia has attained commendable achievements in responding to HIV as less people are dying and less babies are being born with HIV.

“Barely two weeks ago during World Aids day, the Ministry of Health proudly announced the results of the 2021 Zambia population HIV impact assessment survey (Zamphia 2021). These results showed the progress we have made towards the control of HIV. We now know that eighty nine percent (89%) of all Zambians living with HIV know their HIV status; of these, ninety eighty percent (98%) are on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment and of these; ninety six percent (96%) are virally suppressed. Dear participants, these results are a milestone as they show that eighty six percent (86%) of all Zambians living with HIV are virally suppressed against a target of eighty four percent (84%),” Ms. Masebo said.

She said the issues of equity, sustainability, decentralisation and innovation must be the focus to ensure that Zambia attains the end Aids by 2030 goal.

“The ministry of health has recognised the dire need to ensure sustainability of the response to these epidemics through domestic funding. To this effect, the UPND led government has increased the overall health budget from 9.2 billion kwacha in 2021 to 12.4 billion in 2022. The drug budget has been increased from 1.4 billion in 2021 to 3.5 billion in 2022. The government’s contribution to the national HIV related commodity need has increased from usd 25 million in 2022 to usd 35 million in 2023. This is in addition to the historic employment of over 12,000 health care workers within a year of being in government. As we progress toward the final lap in the effort to control these epidemics, equity is critical. Colleagues, the data is clear on the populations that have been left behind and are at a higher risk of these infections. For instance, we know the prevalence of HIV is 50% among female sex workers compared to the 11% in the general population. We also know that viral load suppression is at 80% among children compared to 96% among adults. We cannot continue to use generalised approaches. It is my sincere hope that this conference will demonstrate best practices in the implementation of specific population targeted interventions. Further, let us also find ways of ensuring that these interventions are sustainable, scalable and efficient,” she said.

“As I have said before, our achievements are commendable, less people are dying, less babies are being born with HIV but we cannot afford to have an increasing number of new HIV infections. Even the newly released estimates of 28,000 new HIV infections per year are way too high. The administration of his Excellency the president of the republic of Zambia Mr. Hakainde Hichilema is concerned. New HIV infections have the potential to reverse the gains that we have made in the HIV response. What is also more concerning is that most of these new infections are affecting adolescent girls and young women. This issue needs special attention from you experts gathered here.As you meet here to deliberate on updates, best practices, and new development, I encourage you to have the discussions that should be translated into effective, community oriented, health services that will benefit our Zambian people,” Ms. Masebo said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health has cautioned the public against being misled by people claiming to have found the HIV cure in Zambia.

“Recently there have been several reports of some people claiming to have medicines that cure HIV. These individuals are asking for money from people living with HIV to buy these medicines. My fellow Zambians, as of today, we have no cure for HIV. Let us not be swayed by these individuals. They are after your hard earned resources. Let’s use the best available and scientifically proven medicines to treat HIV. As minister of health, I will not hesitate to fast track the approval locally; of any scientifically proven cure should it be available. But I will not allow you, my fellow citizens, to be robbed of your resources through these scammers claiming to have cures for HIV,” she stated.

“I will be launching the new 2022 Zambia consolidated guidelines for HIV treatment and prevention in this conference. These documents should guide us; however, effective management of both HIV and covid-19 is beyond these guidelines. As we implement them, let’s have a human and caring heart to the people these guidelines are meant to serve. Let me remind you as well to effect what is in the guidelines. Let us make the long acting injectable arvs a reality for our adolescent girls and young women who need effective HIV prevention; let us make the long acting injectable arvs a reality for those of our young people who struggle with tablets for HIV prevention; let us make the long acting injectable ARVs a reality even for those people living with HIV on third lines and taking several tablets daily. In short, let’s adopt innovations that will suit each one of our people and subgroups,” she concluded.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I test my self every 1 December even if I am faithful only to my wlfe. My results this year are negative, as expected. Now can masebo and people like katuka get tested on live TV and reveal their status. Lead by example

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