NAC Proposes HIV Testing At Quarantine Centres
17 May 2020
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NATIONAL Aids Council (Nac) and its implementing partners are working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide HIV related healthcare services, among them provision of condoms and HIV testing to returnees at quarantine centres across the country.

In interview in Gweru last week, Nac chief executive officer Dr Bernard Madzima said there was a need to ensure continuity in the provision of comprehensive healthcare services to people including those under quarantine to ensure that issues to do with HIV and Aids are not neglected as the world grapples with the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Dr Madzima said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recently warned African governments not to neglect other health sectors and ailments and become blinkered by the Covid-19. He said Zimbabwe has made concerted efforts in the fight against HIV and put in place robust intervention strategies that has seen its prevalence rate going down from 25 percent to about 14 percent.

Dr Madzima said Nac and its implementing partners would be providing condoms, family planning services as well as HIV testing to returnees and deported Zimbabwean most of which came from South Africa and Botswana. Zimbabwe is expecting more than 3 000 returnees and deported citizens from its neighbouring country who are trickling back home since countries are on lockdowns.

“There are quarantine centres which are all over the country as you are aware. We are working the Ministry of Health and Child Care teams to make sure that the services which are offered at the health institutions or in the communities are also extended to people who are quarantined. They are not sick people, they are not ill. They still need necessary health services like condoms provision, HIV testing or even self-testing. They also require family planning tablets and they will need treatment for certain conditions. Those services are being extended to people under quarantine in various provinces. As Nac we want to make sure that we do not neglect service provision in those quarantine centres,” he said.

Dr Madzima said those that are on ART treatment will continue to receive medication if they provide medical treatment history and cards.

“On ARVs whether they are from South Africa or Botswana and they have their cards to prove, we are going to provide them with treatment. We have ARVs that can last us the whole year. We usually procure for the whole year so there is no need for people who might want medication or those already receiving medication to panic,” he said.

Dr Madzima said Covid-19 was posing a serious challenge to the full implementation of HIV interventions in the country.

“Testing for HIV, provision of condoms can actually go down and we reverse all the gains and efforts we made through various HIV and Aids intervention strategies. We had challenges initially during the lockdown as people living with HIV were finding it difficult to access their medication. However, there was no interruption. They had challenges in movement. Now we have our mobile pharmacies and clinics. We have our vehicles delivering to various areas. Also, the conditions of the lockdown have been relaxed so people are now able to move around,” he said.

-State Media