Over 12 000 people infected with HIV in the Zambezi Region are currently on anti-retroviral therapy compared to 10 000 last year. This has saved countless lives in the region heavily plagued by the epidemic with an HIV prevalence rate of 37,7 percent.
The Acting Regional Director of Health in the Zambezi Region, Agnes Mwilima, said this at the recent HIV and AIDS awareness day organised by the Zambezi Vocational Training Centre.
Mwilima noted that concerted efforts by stakeholders have made it possible to fight the pandemic. "This has all been possible through the collective responsibility of all stakeholders. There has been significant financial investment in the AIDS response, more affordable drugs, innovative service delivery approaches and activism. We also recognise the scientific advances that have been made," stated Mwilima.
Mwilima further noted that HIV and AIDS has continued to claim many lives in the Zambezi Region and therefore it was imperative that awareness initiatives be promoted. "Zambezi Region is still the hardest hit by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. In the 2012 sentinel survey, 37,7 per cent of people living with HIV and AIDS were in Zambezi Region. The youth and females are most affected. I am aware that HIV and AIDS is now incorporated in vocational training. I am sure that at the end of this awareness day, we would have contributed to the betterment of the lives of trainees," stated Mwilima.
The Zambezi Vocational Training Centre (ZVTC) manager, Richard Kambinda, said collective efforts were necessary to eradicate the pandemic. "The fight against HIV and AIDS cannot be left to health officials alone but is a fight we must all stand up to as men, women, boys and girls and fight to save ourselves," he said.
Kambinda noted the centre has gone a step further by incorporating HIV and AIDS awareness into its curricula. "For us at ZVTC, HIV and AIDS awareness is a core module for all our occupational trades. This means that a trainee cannot continue from one level to the next if found to be not yet competent in the HIV and AIDS awareness module," said Kambinda.
The ZVTC offers training in various trades such as bricklaying, tailoring, hospitality, joinery and cabinet making, plumbing and pipe-fitting, welding and metal fabrication to over 500 trainees.