New Country Director at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Beth Tippett Barr, says she will continue to advocate for more U.S. support to make the virtual elimination of HIV a reality in Zimbabwe.
“My passion lies with ensuring that high quality data from HIV-related services is routinely gathered and reviewed. It is only through the iterative process of reviewing program performance and adjusting our activities accordingly, that we can hope to reach 90-90-90 in Zimbabwe,” said Dr. Barr at a reception held by Ambassador Bruce Wharton to introduce her to partners in the health sector.
90–90–90 is an ambitious treatment target set by UNAIDS to help end the AIDS epidemic. It’s goal is to see 90% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90% all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression by 2020, in order to achieve epidemic control by 2030.
A veteran in the field of public health, Dr. Barr has worked for the last 15 years in HIV prevention, care and treatment, the majority of which has been in Southern Africa. She has worked in Botswana and Malawi, and provided technical support to the government health ministries in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Sudan as they planned and transitioned to PMTCT Option B+. Her most recent assignment was in Malawi where she was Branch Chief for Health Services at the U.S. Embassy in Malawi.
She believes Zimbabwe’s achievement in the HIV and AIDS field puts it in good stead to reach the 90-90-90 targets. “Zimbabwe is on a strong trajectory to reach 90-90-90, and I am excited to join you all in the ongoing fight to make the virtual elimination of HIV a reality,” said Dr. Barr. She will use her wide range of experience in research, program design and implementation; monitoring and evaluation and health policy development to lead CDC-Zimbabwe work with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and other partners to achieve these targets.
Her organization, with funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is supporting the Ministry of Health and Child Care in implementing the Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA). ZIMPHIA is a nationally representative, population-based HIV impact assessment survey whose aim is to measure the burden of HIV and the impact of Zimbabwe’s HIV prevention, care and treatment services. The results from the survey will benchmark progress towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and help to further improve programs and resources towards populations at greatest risk and most in need of services and to guide future investments.
Dr. Barr replaces Dr. Peter Kilmarx, who is now based at the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. She comes to Zimbabwe at a time when the United States Government has for the third year running approved the annual budget of $95 million dollars to fund HIV and AIDS programs in Zimbabwe under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The approval, announced in July this year, will enable CDC Zimbabwe and other United States Embassy agencies to support the implementation of HIV and AIDS activities aligned to the Zimbabwe National Strategic Plan (ZNASP) for 2011-2015 and the UNAIDS Fast Track Strategy.
CDC leverages its core strengths to advance four overarching global health goals of improving the health and well-being of people around the world as well as working to improve capabilities for preparing for and responding to infectious diseases and emerging health threats. – ZimPAS, September 24, 2015