The Lusaka City Council (LCC) has pledged its commitment to ending AIDS by 2030 by providing leadership in the HIV/AIDS response in the city.
Deputy Mayor Chilandu Chitangala said the council is dedicated to scaling up HIV testing and treatment within the communities and creating demand for these services.
Ms. Chitangala was speaking at the Fast Track Cities Workshop held at Cresta Golfview Hotel in Lusaka yesterday.
“As you may be aware, Lusaka City Council is one of the initial 13 global cities that signed the Paris declaration in 2014 to fast track the response to end AIDS by 2030 and achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 global targets 2020,” Ms. Chitangala said.
She added that there is also need to accelerate HIV prevention services, especially among key populations and reduce stigma and believes that discrimination against people living with HIV remains a major barrier to uptake of HIV prevention services within the city.
And Ms. Chitangala believes that more has be done through mobilization of the affected communities and the wider societies to reduce stigma and discrimination.
She charges that the meeting on strategic information is paramount because data remains key in ensuring that the HIV response is accurate, effective and efficient.
“Strategic information will guide our response and ensure that we leave no one behind and I sincerely hope this meeting will achieve its objectives and that we resolve issues issues surrounding data management, reporting and utilization in Lusaka City,” she added.
And National AIDS Council Communications (NAC) Manager Justine Mwiinga reiterated the move the council to provide leadership in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic as they are closest to the local communities and as such are in a better place to provide the necessary leadership with local authority.
Mr. Mwiinga said his organization has in the recent past engaged civic leadership on a countrywide exercise to decentralize the HIV response in the local authorities.
“As we speak right now all local authorities have been educated staff who are actually providing technical advise to the local authorities on how best they can respond to HIV/AIDS in their respective areas,” he said
Mr. Mwiinga added that “NAC believes that the council is coming from this background and is in position to take the ownership of the response because they have an on-boarding within their structures who can help then meet this goal.”
As of October 2018, an estimate of 1.2 million people in Zambia were living with HIV and the AIDS mother body believes collective effort from various stakeholders is needed in order to attain this goal.
Mainga Munsanje is a self-motivated writer, media practitioner and marketer, currently a fourth year student in Media and Communications Studies under the Department of Media and Communications at The University of Zambia. Also Chief Editor for Lusaka Star Entertainment News.