14 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Govt Launches Programme Against Paediatric HIV Infections

GOVERNMENT in partnership with the Families and Communities for the Elimination of Paediatric HIV (FACE) has launched a five-year programme meant to eradicate new HIV infections in children by 2015.

The programme would be funded by the United States government.

Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera said the new project would reduce mother to child HIV transmission rates from 14 percent to five percent by the year 2015.

He said while Government had made a number of achievements in relation to HIV and Aids, a number of challenges remained.

These challenges include the high number of new infections in children.

He said Government was rolling out efficacious regimens for the prevention of mother to child transmision of HIV in line with World Health Organisation guidelines, scaling up treatment of all children under the age of two years and HIV-positive pregnant women regardless of their CD4 Count.

Through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), the US government has awarded a US$60 million grant to run between 2012 and 2017 to support Government in preventing new HIV infections. Government's ultimate goal is to eliminate new infections in children and improve the survival of the mothers. The project is expected to assist nearly 350 000 HIV-positive pregnant women per year.

US ambassador Mr Bruce Wharton said his Government would continue partnering the Zimbabwean Government on health matters.

He said in 2013 the US government doubled its budget towards the health sector to about US$95 million.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare about 95 percent of HIV pregnant women are accessing treatment from about 1 500 sites throughout Zimbabwe.

FACE is a local consortium led by the Organisation for Public Health Interventions and Development.

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