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HIV still health problem – NHRA

MONICA KAYOMBO, Lusaka

ONLY six in 10 adolescent girls and five of 10 boys aged between 15 and 19 years have ever been tested for HIV and know their status. The recently presented policy briefs supported by National Health Research Authority (NHRA) during the Data to Policy (D2P) meeting, indicate that HIV poses a significant threat as a public health problem. One of the policy briefs authored by Cibangu Katamba and Nsanzya Maambo say achieving HIV epidemic control by 2030 remains a challenge.
“Strengthening youth-friendly HIV testing services in health facilities will increase adolescent HIV testing to about 90 percent and foster the achievement of 95-95-95 target,’’ the recommendation reads in part . The paper recommended that young people, particularly those who are at risk of contracting HIV and health-related problems, should not seek traditional-based health services. “Nearly 35 percent of the global burden of HIV/AIDS has roots in adolescence,” the report says. Zambia has one of the highest HIV incidences among adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly because of their vulnerable social and economic status. Adolescent girls and young women are the most affected groups.
According to the 2021 country progress report, the HIV prevalence in Zambia stands at 11 percent among adults between 15 -59 years, while 14. 6 percent of children are HIV-positive, according to the 2016 Zambia Population Based HIV Impact Assessment study. Other policy briefs presented were on the importance of deploying the use of Non-Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment (NASG) at all levels of care to be applied to women with postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) to control bleeding and stabilising women to resolve shock. NASG pilot project in Northern Province of Zambia in 2019 demonstrated local feasibility in the public sector and documented 74 NASG uses. NHRA chief executive officer Godfrey Biemba says policy briefs should not just end at presentation but make recommendations that are convincing to policy-makers. “You need to see that the implementation actually takes place and you should propose various things that should help the policy-makers to implement,” Prof Biemba said. NHRA conducts an annual D2P skills-based training mentorship of selected health officers from different institutions with a goal of developing evidence-based priority issues. This year’s cohort trainees developed six policy briefs on various health topics.




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