PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has been urged to consider finding alternative ways of sustaining HIV/AIDS interventions instead of depending on donor funding.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) country programmes manager Mabvuto Kango said this when he paid a courtesy call on the parliamentary committee on health yesterday.
“Zambia has one of the highest HIV burdens in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of people living positively was 8,200 in 2005, but has increased to 1.2 million,” he said.
Dr Kango said the increase in the number of people on treatment has improved life expectancy for people living positively.
He said the number of people who are HIV-positive is likely to increase, hence the need to ensure Zambia has a domestic sustainable fund to support HIV/ AIDS interventions.
And Dr Kango said research shows that the number of girls indulging in sexual activities has increased by 60 percent since 2013.
Dr Kango has since called on stakeholders to partner with Government and increase sensitisation on HIV and AIDS, to reduce the number of adolescents engaging in sexual activities.
He said there is need to enhance social protection for girls and curb cultural practices that promote early marriages.
And chairperson of the parliamentary committee on health Jonas Chanda said the 90 percent dependence on donor funding for HIV/AIDS intervention programmes is worrisome as donors are likely to withdraw funding anytime.
Dr Chanda said it is sad to note that over 15,000 girls drop out of school yearly due to early marriages and pregnancies.
And Minister of Community Development and Social Services Emerine Kabanshi said Government is committed to enhance the fight against HIV and AIDS as evidenced through the introduction of the social cash transfer programme (SCTP).
Ms Kabanshi said the SCTP is meant to improve nutrition amongst vulnerable people in various communities.
She said investment in interventions against HIV and AIDS translates into socio-economic development, and it has shown that when untreated, HIV and AIDS has a negative impact on human capital, and economic development.
Ms Kabanshi urged AHF to spread their services to various rural areas in the country to ease access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).