U.S. salutes health workers…PEPFAR partners begin HIV testing & TB screening

Harare, May 2nd 2018: On Workers Day, May 1, U.S. Mission in Zimbabwe Charge’ d’ Affaires Jennifer Savage paid tribute to all health workers in Zimbabwe. Addressing a reception to mark U.S. participation at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA 2018), the senior U.S. diplomat said U.S. contribution at the Festival was symbolic of its desire to see a healthy Zimbabwe. For the third year running, the U.S. Embassy is sponsoring the First Street Stage at HIFA, with support of the Ministry of Health and Child Care and partners of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

“I want to thank the messengers who ride the bikes to bring samples into the laboratory; the doctors and nurses who do the hard work every day, the clerks in the clinics; and all the workers who save lives everyday with every one of the actions,” said Savage. “We support the First Street Stage at HIFA because it’s an excellent opportunity to expand our outreach, to provide critical information and services to the general public on HIV/AIDs prevention, treatment and other community services,” she said.

Crowds thronged the First Street Stage on Tuesday with dance and musical entertainment provided by Jibilika Dance Trust, Prince Edward Jazz Band, Jesa Band and the visiting Slavic Soul Party! (SSP!) collaborating with the Zimbabwe College of Music. The New York based brass band later performed in the evening at the Main Stage thrilling audiences with its enthralling high tempo brass music and renditions of popular African beats. SSP! main show is on Thursday at 10 pm at the Main Stage.

Nine PEPFAR partners are exhibiting throughout the week providing free services such as HIV testing, counseling, male circumcision referrals and condoms.

PEPFAR Communications Coordinator Gay Nyakwende said HIV testing and TB screening will be provided for free starting today. “We are impressed by the participation of young people at the First Street Stage and our partners tell us that a lot of people have been asking for free HIV testing services which I can confirm will be available tomorrow Wednesday),” she said.

Florence Saburi, Project Coordinator for Health Information Training and Research Advancement Center (Hitrac) said volumes were peaking by 2 pm with members of the public learning about her organization’ work including how best the health sector can take advantage of the information and communication technologies in the health sector.

“Most people are asking about issues to do with confidentiality of their information especially when it comes to sensitive information collected using the electronic health record, they are afraid that almost everybody will know their HIV status or if they have sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.

Other exhibitors noted an interest in free services available including empowerment initiatives conducted by the PEPFAR partners. “Most people are asking about what we offer under the education assistance package and the toolkit that we are using to give information about sexual and reproductive health, “ said Laura Nyatanga, Project Manager at Mavambo Orphan Care Trust.

This year PEPFAR has committed $150 million in aid to Zimbabwe and will, for the first time, fund cervical cancer screening.  Since 2004, PEPFAR has provided over $1 billion through USAID and CDC.

“Zimbabwe has almost reached epidemic control and we want to keep the momentum going.  This is in line with HIFA’s theme this year, “We Count,” because everyone counts in addressing HIV/AIDS issues in Zimbabwe,” said Savage.- ZimPAS © May 2nd 2018