BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE/PHYLLIS MBANJE
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo yesterday launched the Zimbabwean HIV and Health Situation Room, a software designed to help the government make informed decisions about policies and programmes related to health, including HIV.
Moyo said the technology would assist the country in its goal to end the HIV epidemic by reaching 90% of all people living with the virus (PLWHIV) with testing services.
It will also provide 90% of PLWHIV with antiretroviral therapy and ensuring that 90% of them have sustainable viral load suppression.
“Zimbabwe has adopted an ambitious treatment target of reaching 90% of all people living with HIV with testing equipment and providing 90% of HIV positive people that know their status with sustained antiretroviral therapy, and ensuring that 90% of those on treatment have durable viral load suppression,” Moyo said.
“The HIV and Health Situation Room aims to help speed up and streamline communications between policy-makers and implementers to help Zimbabwe stay on track to reach the national HIV and Health targets as well as Sustainable Development Goals.”
Health secretary Agnes Mahomva said the platform enabled relevant authorities deal with health problems such as establishing constraints to people accessing health care.
“It empowers policymakers, local authorities and partners to track progress, to progress towards targets showing results of health programmes at the national and community levels and identifying bottlenecks in accessing health care services,” she said.
Mahomva also said the technology would also enable distribution of health information within its database and allow effective and efficient response to health issues.
“The value of the HIV and Health Situation Room is in triangulating and providing snapshots of health data for different users, matching their needs for analytics and enabling immediate action. The data dashboards which are accessible to users online are also distributed through regular email and mobile devices,” she said.
UNAids deputy executive director Shannon Hader said although new HIV infections had dropped by 38% since 2010, there was need for more dynamic health systems which can allocate scarce resources more effectively than ever..
“We need innovative tools like the Zimbabwe Integrated HIV and Health Situation Room, which enable authorities to reach the sustainable development goals for health by 2030,” Hader said.
Latest data from the Zimbabwe Situation Room shows that over 170 000 positive HIV results and in total over 1 150 000 people were on lifesaving HIV treatment.
Estimates also show that new HIV infection had dropped by 38% since 2010.
However, new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women remained high in the country and account for almost 1 in 3 (35%) of new HIV infections in a year.
Meanwhile, leading international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has released findings from its community-based HIV and tuberculosis project in Eshowe, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
The research showed that the project had achieved the UNAids targets of 90-90-90 one year ahead of the 2020 deadline.
Results (90-94-95) showed that 90% of people living with HIV knew their status; 94% of those were on antiretroviral treatment and 95% had a suppressed viral load.
The results supported MSF’s view that interventions at community level could successfully reach and directly support more people living with HIV who did not access conventional health services, which is key to getting ahead of the HIV epidemic.