Free HIV/AIDS treatment for 400,000 people in Zambia

Aug 19, 2011

LusakaThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on behalf of the Ministry of Health in Zambia, has signed two Global Fund grants totalling US$141.8 million that will allow some 400,000 people to access free HIV/AIDS treatment over the next two years.

The Zambian Ministry of Health will scale up access to treatment by creating 68 new antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites and supplying drugs to all 454 existing ART sites throughout the country. Global Fund support will provide ART drugs to some 214,339 patients in 2012 and more than 195,679 in 2013.  HIV-positive pregnant women will also receive treatment to prevent transmitting the virus to their unborn babies. These grants will also support procurement of laboratory equipment to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients infected with both HIV and tuberculosis.

Zambia has a generalized HIV epidemic, with the 2007 Zambian Demographic Health survey (ZDHS) reporting the HIV prevalence among women and men aged 15-49 at 14.3 per cent. Women have a higher rate of infection (16.1%) than men (12%), while city-dwellers have a higher infection rate (20%) than those living in rural areas (10%).

Despite progress in the national response to HIV and AIDS, the number of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHIV) continues to rise as a result of new infections and longer lives among those already infected and receiving ART drugs. According to national estimates, a total of 408,966 adults and 30,520 children will require ART in 2012, and these numbers are expected to rise to 435,619 and 30,644, respectively, in 2013.

With these grants, the Global Fund will support the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Health to strengthen the health systems, preventing new HIV infections and increasing survival rates. UNDP agreed in December 2010 to act as Principal Recipient managing Global Fund grants in Zambia while the recipient institutions and Ministry strengthens its own capacity to administer the funds.

Coming from 2009, this is the perfect outcome of our combined efforts as partners: It is now our responsibility to ensure that every kwacha is accounted for and every commodity is secure and reaches the intended people,” the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Peter Mwaba said.

Since December 2010, the Ministry of Health has worked with UNDP in managing projects financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria. With this partnership, UNDP will help the Ministry of Health deepen its own institutional capacities, including its financial management and oversight systems so that it may resume the role of Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants as soon as possible.

“With these grants, Zambia can procure more medicines and pharmaceutical and other health products and equipment. The grants will work towards significantly reducing the number of new HIV infections across Zambia and also boost the capacity of health facilities to provide improved antiretroviral therapy, counselling and testing services,” UNDP Resident Representative Kanni Wignaraja said.   

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria is the largest international channel of financial support for work on those three diseases, which disproportionately affect the world’s least developed countries. UNDP works with the Global Fund in 27 countries, handling some 12 percent of the Fund's overall portfolio, to ensure that funding is invested in effective programmes for vulnerable populations. UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund has already provided treatment to address more than 26 million cases of malaria and 700,000 cases of tuberculosis in Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Belarus, Haiti, and Tajikistan. The experiences and learning across countries will benefit the efforts initiated in Zambia.

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