Zimbabwe, 15 June 2015 – Zimbabwe has one of the largest HIV epidemics in the world, with an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 15% and 1.4 million people living with HIV. However, the country is accelerating action and increasing investment in its HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
As part of a three-day visit to Zimbabwe, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé met with the Vice-President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to discuss the country’s role in the AIDS response.
During the meeting, Mr Sidibé congratulated the government on progress made in treatment scale-up and prevention, and pointed to the need to Fast-Track the AIDS response to end the epidemic in Zimbabwe by 2030. They talked about securing medicines to keep people living with HIV healthy, as well as the challenges in making sure that adolescent girls are not left behind.
Mr Sidibé also joined the Ministers of Health and Child Care and Finance and Economic Development to discuss with business leaders, civil society and diplomatic missions how to Fast-Track the AIDS response in Zimbabwe.
“The price of medicines has fallen from US$ 10 000 per person per year to under US$ 100,” said Mr Sidibé. “But, to ensure that Africa can deliver a fully sustainable response to HIV, Africa has to start producing its own generic medicines rather than import them from abroad.”
The business leaders present affirmed their commitment to keep investing in the AIDS response even as the country faces severe economic challenges. Pharmaceutical manufacturers pledged to continue looking for ways to be competitive so that the country can play a greater part in the production of antiretroviral and other medicines to lessen its dependence on imports.
The Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa recognized that the AIDS response is a national responsibility. In 2014, Zimbabwe only paid 15% of the response from domestic sources, relying heavily on donor funding to make up the gap. The minister acknowledged that Zimbabwe must do more against stigma and discrimination. Mr Parirenyatwa reaffirmed the government’s commitment to build a concerted strategy to Fast-Track programmes to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
To support its response to HIV, in 2000 Zimbabwe introduced an innovative 3% AIDS levy on taxable income. Largely through this levy, domestic financing has increased by 40% in the past three years. To ensure that domestic contributions to Zimbabwe’s response continue to rise, the Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, said, “Zimbabwe will keep its AIDS levy for the foreseeable future.”
Mr Parirenyatwa said that it is important for Zimbabwe, despite its limited resources, to share a portion of its national trust fund to further the global AIDS response. The government of Zimbabwe presented Mr Sidibé with a cheque for US$ 100 000 to contribute to the UNAIDS core budget for 2015.