The National HIV Prevention Coalition says there is need to double HIV prevention efforts and resources for vulnerable groups such as mothers and children as they bear the burden of the HIV epidemic.
Coalition Chairperson Chitalu Chilufya said targeting mothers, children and other vulnerable groups will expedite Zambia’s crusade towards ending AIDS.
Speaking during the 2nd National HIV Prevention Coalition Breakfast meeting held at Radisson Blu Hotels this morning, Dr. Chilufya who is also Minister of Health stressed that children are at greater risk potentially fatal consequences of HIV than any other age group.
Dr. Chitalu, noted that childhood HIV detention and treatment is very low despite the current interventions.
“Around 46 percent of the babies born HIV positive are diagnosed after the period during they are at greatest risk of dying, and only half of the total estimated number of children are currently receiving treatment” he said.
The minister, further assured that his ministry will ensure all those who fall through the cracks of the preventive measures are treated quicker by utilizing available resources.
Dr. Chitalu charged that the coalition is a preventive mechanism aimed at increasing stakeholder’s responsibility towards the achievement of the HIV prevention fast track targets in Zambia by 2030.
And UNAID Country Director Medhin Tsehaiu expressed dismay on the HIV profile among young people especially adolescent girls and young women.
“This group sits in the epicenter of a robust sexual networks that comprises of peer to peer and/or inter generational relationships,” she said
She bemoaned: “the high HIV incidence of 1.07 among young women aged 20-24 compared to an incidence of 0.66 in other ages.”
Dr. Tsehaiu noted the need to strengthen pediatric treatment uptake and achieve the elimination Mother-to-Child-Transmission.
The global organization leader also called for strengthening of partnerships with traditional and religious leaders to reduce the number of people who delay treatment uptake as well as withdraws following malpractices related to faith healing.
Meanwhile, National AIDS Council (NAC) Director of Policy and Planning Mr. John Mwale expressed concern over the high level of HIV prevalence among sex worker.
“Statistics show that the HIV prevalence rate among sex worker currently stands at 56.8 percent as compare to 11.6 percent in the general population,” he said.
Mr. further said called on stakeholders to collectively intensify intervention efforts to see reduced infection rates on the trade mostly involving women.
This is the second time the country is having the Prevention Coalition following its launch by First Lady Esther Lungu in March 2018.
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.