Elizabeth Tsuro, Midlands Reporter
THE National AIDS Council (NAC) has embarked on an ambitious programme to send female school dropouts back to the classroom as part of fighting HIV and Aids.
NAC hopes to use part of a $19 million fund pledged by the United States government in the programme that will also equip beneficiaries’ with entrepreneurial skills.
Statistics in Zimbabwe show that the risk of becoming infected with HIV is higher in girls and young women.
Speaking at a Determined Resilient Empowered Aids-Free Mentored Safe (DREAMS) Update Meeting in Gweru on Thursday, NAC Midlands
Provincial Coordinator, Mambewu Shumba, said the US government through its President‘s Emergence Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), had unveiled the two-year programme commencing this year.
He said the fund would benefit six hot spot areas in the country where HIV infections are high.
The areas are Bulawayo, Chipinge, Mutare, Gweru, Makoni and Mazowe.
He said the DREAMS initiative is set to help young adolescent girls across the country, in and out of school, between the ages of 12 and 24, by providing them with educational and entrepreneurial resources to ensure their safety against HIV infections.
“The PEPFAR and other partners are set to avail more than $19 million which is to be used towards the DREAMS two-year programme.
“The programme is there to help young adolescent girls between the ages of 12-24 which includes school dropouts in the country’s hot spot districts where HIV infections are high,” said Shumba.
He said NAC and its partners would coordinate the programme.
“NAC and other partners will also help with the coordination and training to make the programme, which should start in February, a success,” Shumba said.