ART usage expands in Bulawayo

13 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
ART usage expands in Bulawayo Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Maphios Siamuchembu

The Chronicle

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter
BULAWAYO has increased to 80 percent, the coverage of people on the lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) including pregnant women who could have easily transmitted HIV to their new born babies.

The province also recorded a tremendous achievement in the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) where it can be noted that all women that tested HIV-positive during antenatal care, labour and delivery, and post-delivery were initiated on ART.

Bulawayo has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in Zimbabwe at 13,77 percent which is also higher than the national average which stands at 11,8 percent.

Matabeleland South has the highest prevalence rate at 20 percent.

There are about 86 190 people living with HIV in Bulawayo.

According to the National Aids Council Bulawayo 2021 third quarter report, 66 461 are currently on ART up from 65 819 during the second quarter.

“The ART coverage in the current quarter stands at 80,6 percent which indicates an increase in ART provision in the province from the previous quarters.

ART is provided at various public and private health institutions and people continue to access Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) from major centres within the province,” said Mrs Sinatra Nyathi, the NAC provincial manager.

“The steady increase in ART provision is in line with the country’s stance on putting at least 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on ART as we move towards ending Aids by 2030.”

The statistics show that Bulawayo North District continues to have the highest number of ART clients as it houses the biggest central hospital, Mpilo Central Hospital which caters for clients from in and out of the province.

NAC has divided Bulawayo into five districts: Bulawayo North, Bulawayo South, Nkulumane, Luveve and Emakhandeni.

“The district caters for at least 32 percent of the total number of ART clients while Luveve District contributes at least nine percent of the total ART clients in the province.

The remaining districts —Emakhandeni, Bulawayo South and Nkulumane districts account for the rest of the clients,” she said.

Despite the prolonged Covid-19 restrictions that resulted in the scaling down of many community activities, Mrs Nyathi said implementing partners showed resilience and came up with new innovations.

“The province recorded a tremendous achievement in the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) area where it can be noted that all women that tested HIV positive for HIV during antenatal care, labour and delivery, post-delivery were initiated on ART.

The province recorded a significant reduction in the positivity rate from 5, 24 percent in the first quarter to 4, 65 percent in the third quarter,” she said.

Mrs Nyathi added that the number of people who tested for the first time increased by 1 270, from 5 804 in the previous quarter to 7 074 in the third quarter.

Contacted for comment, Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said the increase adds to milestones that Bulawayo keeps attaining in the health sector.

He said those on ART should adhere to their medication to achieve viral suppression which will help the country end Aids by 2030.

“The overall goal is to eliminate Aids related deaths by 2030 hence this improvement in ART coverage is all an attempt at meeting these targets.

It speaks to the fact that our health workers and partners are working hard despite the many challenges, said Dr Siamuchembu.

“We thank them and congratulate the health workers and all the ministry’s partners in the province.

It is unfortunate that in 2022 anyone in Zimbabwe would die from HIV since we have free ART and nowadays people are more aware which explains the reduced stigma on HIV related issues.”

Dr Siamuchembu said residents should utilise the proven HIV prevention methods to reduce the number of new infections.
These methods are condoms, voluntary medical male circumcision, PrEP and abstinence.

“Those who start on ART really should adhere to their treatment protocols so that the treatment doesn’t fail, and so they are virally suppressed, live healthy lives and not transmit HIV to other people,” he said.

Dr Siamuchembu also applauded residents for the high turn out on Covid-19 vaccination programme as Bulawayo is the leading province in terms of coverage.

As of Tuesday, coverage stood at 51,8 percent for both the first and second doses.

“The reports clearly show that Bulawayo Metropolitan Province is leading in the vaccination against covid-19.

Again, this is testimony of the hard work of the health workers in the province, particularly at Bulawayo City Health department under the leadership of Dr Edwin Sibanda, the central hospitals under the leadership of the acting CEOs and some private hospitals and clinics.

Again, I am extremely grateful to these people and proud of their work as they are raising the Bulawayo flag high,” he added.

Bulawayo has also become the first city in Zimbabwe to join Paris Declaration Fast Track Cities, an initiative to help cities commit to ending Aids by 2030.

The city signed a memorandum of understanding with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) and its partners last year to join over 300 cities in the world that have committed to the initiative to scale up efforts to end the pandemic.

— @thamamoe

Share This: