For the third straight year in succession, the United States Government has approved a 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 was announced in July this year for funding to implement HIV and AIDS activities as outlined in the Country Operational Plan (COP) for 2016, and aligned to the Zimbabwe National Strategic Plan (ZNASP) for 2011-2015 and the UNAIDS Fast Track Strategy. Since 2006, PEPFAR has provided over US$650 million to Zimbabwe, including US$95 million for each of the past three years (US$285 million total), for HIV and AIDS interventions. As a direct result of this continuous support, by the end of 2014, 160,000 people were on antiretroviral therapy and receiving related HIV services and care.
“We are committed to continuing our robust support through PEPFAR to the national response to HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe,” U.S. Ambassador Bruce Wharton announced. “We are very gratified to see PEPFAR’s evolution from an emergency response in 2004 to a sustainable initiative in 2015. The PEPFAR contribution to reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation is already being felt: A disease that at one time seemed to be unstoppable is now in retreat. We firmly believe the PEPFAR slogan that achieving epidemic control with the current global budget will require delivering the ““Right Things” in the “Right Places” in the “Right Way” and “Right Now.””
The allocation of PEPFAR resources are focused on achieving the greatest impact in epidemic control in a short space of time. Resources will target 36 districts for increased scale-up and will focus efforts on populations in which the numbers of new infections and of people living with HIV are highest. Efforts to sustain key care and treatment activities in 53 high volume sites across the entire country will continue.
Each year, U.S. missions worldwide that receive PEPFAR funds must document how those resources will be invested. The COP is the vehicle that documents the U.S. government’s annual investments and anticipated results in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and forms the basis for approval of the annual PEPFAR funding in Zimbabwe. The COP, therefore, articulates the U.S. Mission’s commitment to achieve epidemic control in Zimbabwe, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC). Throughout the development of the COP, the PEPFAR/Zimbabwe team engaged with the MOHCC in the planning process, and held meetings with key stakeholders, other donors and civil society to share proposed activities, foster discussion, and provide a forum for questions and answers.
The United States believes that attaining an AIDS-free generation is possible, especially if we continue to pool our resources and make smart, high impact investments. The goal is to increase PEPFAR coordination and information-sharing with the MOHCC, the National AIDS Council, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund), UNAIDS, and other donors and key stakeholders.
Achieving an end to the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires investments in a number of proven strategies, including those interventions known to be most effective in preventing transmission. The U.S. government supports the government of Zimbabwe in the goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation through the scale-up of combination HIV prevention, treatment, care and support efforts in areas where the burden of HIV prevalence and of people living with HIV are the highest. Voluntary medical male circumcision and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV are some of the HIV prevention strategies that PEPFAR funds support. Further, PEPFAR supports interventions that strengthen the health delivery systems, such as the development and delivery of high quality pre- and in-service training of health personnel, including doctors and nurses, as well as the strengthening of the management of district-level health information systems.
The United States is a leading provider of bilateral HIV and AIDS assistance to Zimbabwe. The United States government was the first contributor to the Global Fund and remains the largest, with over $7 billion dollars in contributions to date. The U.S. Mission in Harare is confident that the newly approved $95 million dollars in PEPFAR funds will go a long way in the fight to eliminate new HIV infections in Zimbabwe. The United States is encouraged by the collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, and hopes to continue the joint efforts to achieve epidemic control of HIV.