$170m windfall for health sector as ARV prices fall

THE decline in prices of anti-retro viral (ARV) drugs globally has seen Zimbabwe enjoying the flexibility of channelling the over $170 million provided by the Global Fund towards other critical interventions against HIV and Aids as well as tuberculosis.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Global Fund country co-ordinator Oscar Mundida told legislators in Gweru over the weekend that due to the decline in prices of ARV drugs, the country would benefit $170m for the coming four years, which it seeks to channel towards other key population areas.

“From the current grant, we have realised savings of $178 million and from the $406 million we are going to receive, it means we are going to use about $200m or so. The issue is, this money (savings) must go towards priority areas, but we then need to re-prioritise,” he said.

The Global Fund sources money from the donor community for the fight against HIV and Aids as well as TB, among other related diseases.

Under the Global Fund, over 700 000 people receive HIV and Aids treatment, with the rest being catered for by other sources that include the national aids levy, which is managed by government through the National Aids Council (NAC).

Zimbabwe has been praised for putting in place sound policies in mitigating the spread of the virus, but the country faces a tough task in curbing the spread of the virus among sex workers and prisoners, whose HIV prevalence rate is as high as 60% and 28% respectively.

On average, the country’s prevalence rate declined from 18% to 14% in the last decade and this has been attributed to efforts by government through NAC and its funding partners such as Global Fund and other donor agencies.

Legislators were, however, left divided on how the money realised from the drop in prices could be used, with some calling for adoption of safe abortion, while others said the money should go towards the procurement of condoms for gays and lesbians, as they were not catered for in the mainstream resource supply chain.

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