ZIMPHIA local Zim artists promoting awareness on the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

By Michael Gwasira 

Zimbabwe Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA 2020) 20) heId a National Sensation meeting on Friday says plans are afoot to fight HIV in 2020.

This comes on the backdrop of a  successful assessment held in 2015/2016 under Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) hence it is going to be a follow up regarding progress made in general as a country to assess the impact of the HIV prevention, care and treatment services.

Zimbabwe has made significant milestones in HIV programmingover the years.  The national prevalence rate has drastically come down from a high of 29% in 1999 to the current 14.1% amongst the adult population. The incidence rate, that is, number of new HIV infections has gone down from 1.03% in 2010 to 0.42% in 2016. It is truly remarkable the significant progress made and the sterling effort produced over the years marred by dedication. 

According to the ZIMPHIA 2015-2016 survey results, in Zimbabwe 77% of people living with HIV knew their status, 88% of those people were on treatment, and 85% of those people on treatment were virally suppressed. ZIMPHIA 2015-2016 showed significant progress towards reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020 and the global target to end AIDS by 2030. Despite these remarkable results indicating the progress and achievements made so far, efforts cannot be slowed down. The need for continuity to scale up on the innovations and best practices and ensure that reaching out all key and vulnerable populations that are at high risk and ensure that they provide relevant HIV services and products. The previous results cannot be relied upon;therefore, the need to carry out another assessment and have the latest picture of the impact of the HIV epidemic in Zimbabwe is of importance.

ZIMPHIA’s 2020 goal is to examine the HIV situation by assessing the coverage and impact of HIV services at the population level and measuring the HIV-related risk behaviours using a nationally representative sample. ZIMPHIA highly recognise the importance of this survey and the need to ensure it rallies behind and support all the different components of the assessment.

ZIMPHIA implies to have highly trained teams of professionals who will be visiting selected households carrying out the assessment. The stakeholders in different communities, which involve the leaders and its people, are called to comply and support the work of these teams. A benchmark has been set to ensure the teams will exercise the highest professional conduct as possible and maintain professional standards of confidentiality.

Dr Mugurungi from the Ministry of Health in his keynote address delivered in Harare on the 18th day of October was quite optimistic that ZIMPHIA 2020 would help the Ministry, key health authorities and policymakers to have a better understanding of the overall impact of HIV on the entire population of Zimbabwe, looking beyond people living with HIV. The Ministry of Health is elated ZIMPHIA 2020 will provide technical assistance at the national level to strengthen data collection systems, enhance laboratory infrastructure, and strengthen local human resource capacity.  

The Ministry of Health and Child Care have continued working on this population based HIV impact assessment premised on the successful partnership it has had with the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), National AIDS Council (NAC), ICAP at Columbia University and other strategic partners in the sector. The Ministry of Health expressed its sincere gratitude and support it has received and the great partnerships existing to ensure that the nation-wide survey is not only possible, but also comprehensive and successful. ZIMPHIA 2020 is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with technical assistance from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Since its inception in 2003, ICAP at Columbia University (CU)has been a global leader in providing implementation support, capacity building (CB), and technical assistance (TA) for HIV and related health programs, delivering transformative solutions to health challenges. With funding from PEPFAR, ICAP collaborated with Ministry of Health & Child Care to conduct the national (ZIMPHIA), the first survey in Zimbabwe to assess national HIV incidence and viral load (VL) suppression with over 31,000 participants. ICAP is a key partner of the Ministry of Health & Child Care and the Ministry of Health is very confident that ICAP in Zimbabwe will deliver a quality survey.

In conclusion, all parties and stakeholders were implored to fully rally behind the survey to achieve the global 2030 goal to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is with diligence and collective input for this noble and relevant goal to be achieved! 

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