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UN, USA applaud Dar  progress in HIV control

UN, USA applaud Dar progress in HIV control

UNITED Nations (UN) and the United States (US) have commended Tanzania for tremendous progress towards HIV/ AIDS control and expressed their commitments to continue working with the government on curbing impacts of the epidemic to attain the 3 zeros target.

The commitment was made yesterday by the UN Resident Coordinator to Tanzania, Zlatan  Milišić, and the US Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Donald Wright, during national World AIDS Day commemoration in Mbeya, yesterday.

The 3 zeros include zero HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination, as well as providing a clear vision for future HIV/ AIDS research and policy.

The United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) is also implementing a 90-90-90 target aimed at eliminating AIDS as a public heal problem by the year 2030. This will ensure 90 per cent of people living with HIV are diagnosed, 90 per cent of people diagnosed are receiving antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of people on treatment are virally suppressed and unable to pass on the infection.

The US envoy said that in the past 18 years only 1000 people were using ARV in Tanzania, but to date more than 1.4 million Tanzanians are receiving the life serving treatment.

“With proper care and treatment people living with HIV can now live healthy and fulfilling lives,” he said. He also encouraged Tanzania to focus on Primary Prevention especially for adolescent girls and young women, as part of efforts to attain the set goals.

“If we want to reach epidemic control we must at least put these young women and girls at the centre of strategy and address drivers of new infection within this population ... we must enhance education opportunities through family planning, increased economic empowerment,” he suggested.

Adding; “We must continue working together to reduce mortality among people living with HIV infections, and this will be possible by ensuring that the drugs are available to prevent new infections among the entire population.

The diplomat also expressed the need to start identifying adolescent adults and children who don’t know their status, especially those in hard to reach areas. “…and those who will test positive will be linked to the treatment and ensure their goals are realized,” he urged, cautioned on the presence of discrimination and stigma to among the HIV positive.

“To achieve the 2030 target, we can’t overlook the need for resources; the US and other development partners have been providing significant financial and technical support to Tanzanian HIV and AIDS Response,” he said.

President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will be providing 450 million US dollars for HIV Aids response teams in the current fiscal year. In the past 18 years the US has invested a total of 5.4bn Us Dollars in Tanzania’s HIV response whereas the global fund will bring an additional of 721 million US dollars between 2021 and 2023.

According to the ambassador, the money is meant to support the country in fighting Tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Covid-19 as well as strengthening the health system.

However, he cautioned that the donor funding will not be available forever, pledging support to the government on developing a durable plan to increase domestic resource mobilization for HIV/Aids.

“At the same time, HIV must be a priority in health financing and should be included in the universal health coverage and allocations in the AIDS trust fund,” he said, noting that external sources account for 9 per cent in allocation of Aids in Tanzania.

The envoy therefore encouraged the government to increase domestic allocations and mobilization for the health sector, especially HIV response. “We remain committed to continue achieving this goal and you can count on our continued support.

Let’s strengthen our partnerships towards ending HIV as a public threat in Tanzania by the year 2030,” said MrMilišić.

He also suggested the importance of member states to have bold measures against inequalities and discriminations against people living with HIV infections, in a bid to attain the set targets by 2030.

“Without bold actions against inequalities, the world risks missing the target by 2030 as well as a prolonged covid-19 pandemic,” he said, noting that ending inequalities requires transformative changes in political, economic and social policies. 

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Author: DEOGRATIUS KAMAGI

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