A major health poser looms in the Midlands province following reports an international humanitarian agency, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (French acronym for Doctors without Borders), will pull out by year-end leaving behind over 7 150 HIV/Aids patients that had depended on it for the supply of anti-retroviral drugs and other health care needs.
The pull-out by the organisation could expose the Health ministry, which is still struggling to pull itself out of the woods after a near collapse of the health delivery system in 2008.
Zimbabwe depends on 76% funding from donors in its HIV and Aids response with only 24% coming from the Aids levy.
However, MSF medical programmes manager Audrey van der Schoot dispelled fears the pull-out would sound a death knell to its beneficiaries.
“MSF–Holland is committed to ensure a smooth transition for the patients.
“The handover procedure has been discussed at length with patients during consultations and they have been made aware that they will have access to health care at a clinic closer to their home since the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is in the process of decentralising OI (opportunistic infection) /ART (anti-retroviral treatment) services in all districts in Zimbabwe,” said Schoot.
Currently, MSF has already transferred 3 200 HIV patients to the Health ministry of which 2 200 are on ART.
They have also handed over all prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) activities to government agencies.
However, Midlands provincial medical director Gideon Mafaune said his ministry had the capacity to take over the programme although he admitted they still needed international assistance.
“We are taking over from where MSF–Holland has left off and so far the transition has been smooth.
“We continue to monitor the process with the commitment of our partners that they will do everything necessary to step in and assist where there are challenges,” said Mafaune.
MSF–Holland has been running health care programmes in the Midlands province for the past six years.