Government will work closely with civic organisations to achieve a paradigm shift in cultural norms and values within communities and families to boost the fight against HIV and AIDS, an official has said.
Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said this when she received guests from the office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) in Washington, America, who visited the province last week.
She met with gender advisor Ta'Adhmeeka Beamon, clinical policy advisor and analyst Caroline Cooney and senior health advisor and US Embassy in Zimbabwe representative, Natalie Kruse-Levy.
They were hosted at Checheche Growth Point in Chipinge.
In her welcome remarks, Dr Gwaradzimba applauded Chipinge's Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-free, Mentored and Safe Women Initiative (DREAMS) and Family AIDS Counselling Trust (FACT) for helping people affected by HIV and related issues in Zimbabwe and beyond.
"As the Government of Zimbabwe, I would want to assure you that we will work hand-in-glove with DREAMS partners," she said.
"The DREAMS project, however, has its fair share of challenges mainly relating to norms and values that tend to promote violence against women and girls. Communities accept domestic violence and gender violence plus sexual and intimate partner violence.
"Some communities and religious groups accept early marriages, especially for the girl children and do not want to upgrade the unsafe environments in which girls and young women find themselves in."
Dr Gwaradzimba said the success of DREAMS relied on close cooperation between implementing partners and critical line ministries such as Health and Child Care, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and Primary and Secondary Education.
"The success of DREAMS hinges on how local leadership and partners like National AIDS Council, Family Health International 360, Organisation for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID), PSI, Africaid, Simukai, Care At The Core of Humanity (CATCH) and Childline work with volunteers," she said.