Health

Byo’s fight against infections receives boost

Barnabas Thondhlana

The National Aids Council has handed over 11 television sets to the Bulawayo City Council for the promotion of information on various diseases.

Making the presentation at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Friday, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa said: “Health education has played a key part in this scale up as it has empowered our people with the correct and appropriate information for behaviour change and utilisation of prevention services.

“We have to sustain the approach and enhance it with the use of technology through which various topics such as HIV prevention, TB awareness, prevention and treatment can be tackled continuously and be re-enforced through strategies such as drama, music and poetry.”

“The TV sets that are being handed over today to Bulawayo City will go a long way in information dissemination particularly now as Zimbabwe tackles epidemics of HIV, TB and non-communicable diseases in particular cervical cancer,” she said.

Information dissemination and outreach programmes undertaken by organisations such as NAC and others have made a huge impact on the country’s health services and service delivery.

Said Health minister David Parirenyatwa at the same occasion: “Our response to HIV has scored several successful results over the years, among them the reduction of new HIV infections by nearly 50% between 2011 and 2016, from 0.88% to 0.48% as conformed by the Zimbabwe Population-based Aids Impact Assessment and the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey.

“At the same time, more than 1.1 million of our people living with HIV are now on antiretroviral therapy as we coast towards ending Aids by 2030 in line with the sustainable Development Goals.”

Dr Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe had made great strides in combatting TB; with the estimated TB incidence declining to 208 per 100 000 in 2016, as compared to a peak of 617 per 100 000 in 2003. Out of the 28 225 cases diagnosed in 2015, 81% were successfully treated, and this has remained the same compared to 2014 versus the ministry’s target of 90%

“This is mainly due to a high proportion of 10% of people dying whilst on treatment, with the most affected provinces being Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Bulawayo which are averaging 10%. There is need to ensure early TB case detection and initiation of treatment,” he said.

The First Lady encouraged content producers to target men in their campaigns as most of them are reluctant to undergo tests.

“I would like to encourage the clinics and committees that would be responsible for the production of the programmes that would be shown on TV to also deliberately engage men with relevant and appealing messages to take up health services and also support their partners,” she said.

The cancer ambassador said it was sad that the nation continues to lose women due to lack of knowledge about cervical cancer which constitutes over 35 percent of the new cancer cases recorded each year in Zimbabwe.

“What is particularly sad is that most women die due to lack of information and stigma associated with cervical cancer,” she said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said government wanted to close that tap where new infections where coming from, adding “these new infections are coming from commercial sex workers, long distance truck drivers, prison settings.

“In the general population the percentage of HIV infection is 14 percent, and in prisons it’s 28 percent so it’s an area that we must close and young people particularly young women in institutions of higher learning, colleges and polytechnics. So please Amai may you talk to the young people because that’s where STIs and HIV infections are most prevalent,” he said.

 

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