After remarkable work and commitment from wide-ranging stakeholders, I am excited to note that my country, Zimbabwe, is making steady progress towards achieving health-related MDG targets.
We have come a long way in strengthening our health systems and addressing diseases like AIDS, thanks to our innovative AIDS levy. Our country has placed over 400,000 people on HIV treatment. This represents close to 80 percent of those in need of anti-retroviral treatment. There is now mounting evidence to indicate that we are poised to attain universal access.
Zimbabwe has also shown remarkable progress towards malaria pre-elimination in some districts. At 80 percent success rate, we have also recorded significant advancements in TB treatment.
All these are laudable milestones. What seemed improbable just ten years ago is being achieved thanks to hard work and commitment of Zimbabwe’s health officials and strong partnerships between the government and international donors.
One such international partner is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Global Fund’s investments in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in my country have been instrumental in saving many lives.
Since 2002, the organization has approved US$628 million to fight the three diseases in my country. With Global Fund support, 400,000 people have been put on ARV treatment, 25,000 new smear-positive TB cases have been detected and treated. Additionally, 2.3 million insecticide treated nets distributed to protect families from malaria.
The Government of Zimbabwe desires to have the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all its citizens. As we intensify our response towards the three maladies, my country will continue to need support from the Global Fund and from other international partners.
We have witnessed tremendous impact of Global Fund’s investments in my country. These effects come in the way of improved access to quality health and in the resultant enhanced productivity. These results have underscored the fact that the health of a people is fundamental to their development.
Farmers, small business owners, civil servants, Zimbabweans from all walks of life, who are living with HIV, are trooping back to work after receiving HIV treatment. These people are now vigorously contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.
Moreover, our life expectancy, which had declined to 43 years in 2003 edged up to 51 years in 2011. More years have meant more tangible benefits to our people and country.
This year, as we prepare for the Global Fund’s 4th Replenishment for the period 2014-2016, the health of our people, especially in regard to the three big pandemics of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, is in a much improved position. I have never been more hopeful about our health and the overall quality of life in my country.
The Global Fund’s replenishment this year, is another important chance to gather resources to advance the work we are doing in Zimbabwe and the work that many others are doing around the world.
The investments that the world makes to the Global Fund are going to allow us to continue implementing high-impact interventions, and advances in science and passionate programming can move us closer to the historical opportunity of defeating the three diseases, allowing us to utilize our people’s full potential in development.
This is not just the story of Zimbabwe; it is the story of many other countries and communities around the world. It is why continued and invigorated funding for the Global Fund is imperative.
We in the implementing countries are at a critical moment, where many of the gains we have made can be lost without the appropriate funding for the three diseases.
I am confident that with enough funding to the Global Fund, Zimbabwe’s health officials and those of other countries around the world can scale up their work, which would help ordinary people take full control of the lives and livelihoods.