UNAIDS Backs “Universal Routine” HIV Testing

Zambia's delegation at Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls WHO summit

UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Catherine Sozi says government should be commended introduction of universal routine testing because the initiative is an important milestone in achieving an HIV free country.

In a statement issued by Stanslous Ngosa, Head of Communication for the Ministey of Health, Dr. Sozi said in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe when she met Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Health Services Dr. Jabbin Mulwanda on the sidelines of the WHO 67th Regional Commitment Meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Dr. Sozi says the campaign launched by President Edgar Lungu will boost opportunities for people to know their HIV status and critical to accessing treatment for people living with the virus.

Of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in Zambia, only 69 percent know their status. There are therefore approximately 400 000 people who do not know that they are living with HIV.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sozi commended Zambia for its commitment in utilising community health workers to promote good health and improve access to primary health care.

She says most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa can learn important lessons from Zambia’s immense experience in working with community health workers.

Dr. Mulwanda says the integration of community health workers in the health system in Zambia has created a huge impact on the uptake of health services.

He says government remains committed in enhancing the services of community health workers as demonstrated by the creation of schools to train and capacity build them.

The Permanent Secretary says plans are underway to decentralize community health worker training schools to the all the provinces from the current two in Ndola and Mwachisompola.

He says Zambia will continue to work with partners such as UNAIDS to ensure that the implementation of health programmes help to attain Government’s goals of improving the health of the people.