Zimbabwe: Community volunteers obtain bicycles from the National AIDS Control Council
The National AIDS Council (NAC) has unveiled 130 bicycles worth $3.7 million for use by community volunteers in Mashonaland Central to help them respond to HIV/AIDS and reach all hard-to-reach areas. access.
It comes as the government has set out an agenda to leave no one and no place behind as the country moves towards an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.
Mashonaland Central has approximately 1,000 community health volunteers, some of whom travel long distances to create demand for health services, raise awareness and empower communities with information to protect themselves from pandemics.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Decentralization, Senator Monica Mavhunga, said the government was impressed that the NAC is bringing the National AIDS Trust Fund back to the community through the implementation of models community-based, peer-led HIV prevention programs.
“I have been informed that most of the funds from the National AIDS Trust Fund go towards the HIV prevention campaign,” she said.
“Investing in community-based, peer-led HIV prevention interventions is now at the heart of HIV/AIDS programming in Zimbabwe, as the NAC coordinates the multi-sector approach to ending HIV by 2030.
“This peer-led approach is in line with Zimbabwe’s National AIDS Strategic Plan 2021 to 2025, which states that health communication is most effective if it involves dialogue and problem-solving skills provided by participatory or empowerment approaches.”
Senator Mavhunga said the peer-led approach was in line with National Development Strategy 1 which focuses on empowering communities to take the lead in pursuing their development desires.
She said there is a need to provide community volunteers with the tools to do their jobs properly, which will result in increased service delivery and a better quality of life for everyone in the province.
The Provincial Director of NAC, Mr. Edgar Muzulu, said he has invested $30 million in providing school grants for 2,000 learners in the province.
He said community volunteers were foot soldiers in the response to HIV/AIDS and other pandemics like COVID-19.
“The National AIDS Trust Fund is a national basket fund launched by the government to fund the response to HIV/AIDS,” he said.
“This gesture will ensure universal access to care and support services for the treatment of HIV prevention.
“A healthy community is the backbone of all development efforts. About 95,000 people in the province are living with HIV/AIDS, 41 percent are men and 59 percent women. About 5,000 children in the province are living with HIV.
“Mash Central ranks fourth in the country with a prevalence rate of 13%. Factors driving the pandemic in the province include multiple concurrent partners, social and religious practices that lead to vulnerability and expose young girls and women.
Mr Muzulu said the COVID-19 pandemic has become another driver of new HIV infections as people have become laid off and given time off to engage in risky behaviors which have fueled new HIV infections and teenage pregnancies.
“It all depends on the work of community volunteers who create demand for health services, raise awareness and enable communities to have information to prevent themselves from pandemics,” he said.
More bikes will soon be made available to Mashonaland Central volunteers.