Together we can end AIDS in Children in Zimbabwe
Statement of Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative
Harare, 2 February 2023 – At a high-level event held yesterday 1 February 2023 in Dar es Salaam, Honorable Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Minister of Health and Child Care, Gen. (Rtd) Dr C.G.D.N. Chiwenga led the Zimbabwe Country Delegation to the continental launch of the Global Alliance to end AIDS in Children, alongside 11 other countries in Africa. UNICEF congratulates the Minister of Health and Child Care and the National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe for the steadfast commitment and visionary leadership of the national HIV response.
The Global Alliance to end AIDS in Children aims to advocate for and galvanize worldwide leadership, political commitment, and resources for urgent action to address inequities and end AIDS in Children. The Alliance focuses on four pillars including early testing and optimized treatment and care for children and adolescents living with HIV and perinatally exposed children; closing the treatment gap and optimizing continuity of treatment for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV; preventing new HIV infections among pregnant and breastfeeding women; and addressing structural barriers that hinder access to services.
The Dar es Salaam Meeting culminated into a Declaration for Action focusing on strengthening, coordinating and resourcing robust and sustainable national programmes to end AIDS in Children, including by providing access to universal testing and treatment for all children and adolescents living with HIV and support them to remain virally suppressed; implementing comprehensive, integrated HIV services; and ending the stigma, discrimination, and gender inequities experienced by women, children, and adolescents affected by HIV.
As a partner country to the Global Alliance to end AIDS in Children, Zimbabwe is amongst the 12 countries in Africa that have come together with high level plans and priorities towards ending AIDS in children by the year 2030.
The timing of the Dar es Salaam meeting could not have been better. Zimbabwe continues to have low treatment coverage rates amongst children living with HIV. The Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) coverage and viral suppression for children is 71% and 85% respectively, well below the national adults’ coverage of 96% and 93% respectively.
The Global Alliance is a great opportunity for stakeholders in Zimbabwe to galvanize their work under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Child Care to end AIDS in Children.
Building on the commitments made in Dar es Salaam, together we can turn around the low coverage in treatment for children and tackle the high levels of HIV infections amongst adolescent girls and young women. The infections in girls and young women represent more than half of all new infection.
In the efforts to end AIDS in Children, stakeholders in Zimbabwe can build on the significant progress that the Government has so far made towards reducing the overall HIV prevalence from 15.2% in 2015 to 11.6% in 2021.
UNICEF is committed to work together with the Government of Zimbabwe and its partners to implement a robust and sustainable national programme to end AIDS in Children and adolescents in the country. UNICEF urges the donor community to support all stakeholders and to join the effort to save and change lives and ensure children living with HIV reach their full potential.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.