Zim’s AIDS Levy, a model that other African states can emulate
By Catherine Murombedzi
From the 4th to the 9th of December 2023, Harare roars to the 22nd International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (22nd ICASA).
Two high-level meetings (HLM) on the 2nd of December will preceed ICASA in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The First Ladies of African countries will converge for the prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission of HIV (PMTCT) meeting.
The First Lady of Zimbabwe and Ambassador of Health, Dr Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, will chair the meeting.
As a member of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in collaboration with the UN, she launched the “Free to Shine” campaign to end the mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The second high-level meeting is for African ministers of finance. On the agenda is domestic financing for health.
Most African countries rely on donor funding to manage HIV, TB, malaria, and other infectious diseases.
The African Union Agenda 2063 Goal 3 states access to health services as a necessity for healthy and well-nourished citizens.
Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries with homegrown domestic funding. The National AIDS Trust Fund (NATF) is one of the best practices to be shared at the high-level meeting. Founded in 1999, through an Act of Parliament, the fund is used to purchase second and third line treatment with use guided by the Act.
The AIDS Levy is derived from formally employed workers who have 3% of their taxable income channeled to fight AIDS. In 2015, mining companies were taken on board and now contribute to the fund.
The President of the ICASA 2023 and President of Society for AIDS in Africa, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said the country was ready to receive over 8000 delegates to the conference.
“Zimbabwe is ready to receive over 8000 participants who will be coming to attend this meeting here in Harare. We are very clear in our minds that fight against AIDS must continue as our theme of 22nd ICASA says, ‘AIDS is not over’.
There has been an apparent complacency in the fight against AIDS, as some people are now saying ‘we have done enough for AIDS’ – so, we need to remind ourselves that there are still infections that are happening, especially among the youth. Therefore, we must continue to address AIDS so that Zimbabwe and the region are on track to end AIDS,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Ready to Roll
Dr Aspect Maunganidze, Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Care, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Douglas Mombeshora said the country was ready to host the conference.
He said the cholera outbreak was under control.
“All government systems and structures, from security, banking, accommodation, transport, and health among others, have been mobilised to provide the necessary support before and during the conference.
All locals and visitors have full access to health care services. You may have read that recently, there was an outbreak of cholera in some parts of Zimbabwe. I wish to assure you all, and our visitors, that the isolated outbreaks have been contained and that our surveillance system is exceptionally effective and has picked all cases, and they have been treated,” he said.
Zimbabwe is a peaceful country with warm and hospitable citizens.
Besides the conference, visitors can enjoy the tranquility of the majestic Mosi’ Oa’ Tunya, meaning the Smoke that Thunders. The site, which is one of the 7 Wonders of the World, was named Victoria Falls by David Livingstone in 1855 in honor of his Queen Victoria.
Less than 300km from Harare are the serene settings of the cool breeze Eastern Highlands. The World View, Mutarazi Water Falls, fresh trout to whet the taste buds and Hot Springs fill the tour in the mountain ranges.
A drive down the southern province takes visitors to the House of Stones, Great Zimbabwe, where the country derives its name.
Come early, or stay behind a few days after ICASA and enjoy more beyond the conference.
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