THE Ministry of Health in conjunction with the US government yesterday launched a New Start Centre to provide HIV testing, counselling, prevention and reproductive health services in Kasama.
Northern Province Minister Obius Chisala who officiated at the launch said Government appreciated the US government's efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS.
He said the prevalence rate in Northern Province at 6.8 per cent was among the highest in the country with Kasama and Mpulungu districts recording 10.8 per cent prevalence rate.
He was hopeful the services would help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and praised the initiative which had a catchment area of more than 19,000 community members.
Under the programme funded by US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Partnership for Integrated Social Marketing (PRISM), 10 New Start Centres had been opened nationwide.
USAID senior health advisor George Sinyangwe said provision of HIV services was critical.
"HIV remains one of the greatest threats to household livelihoods in Zambia. With its expansion, in the Northern Province, the US government and Ministry of Health are collaborating to meet Zambia's objectives of a nation free from the HIV/AIDS threat," Dr Sinyangwe said.
PEPFAR and the USAID-funded PRISM activity had invested more than US$66 million over five years to distribute health products and services through the private and public sectors.
Society for Family Health (SFH) director Namwinga Chintu said New Start Testing Centres provided counselling and testing services to more than 20, 000 clients per month.
SFH collaborates with stakeholders like Government, other donors and local communities in implementing its core services.