Fiona Ruzha, H-Metro Reporter
AS HIV programmes in Zimbabwe move closer to the last mile of attaining sustainable control of the epidemic, it is crucial that we employ ‘a business unusual’ approach that seeks to refine our focus and targeting approaches, a senior health official has said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Agnes Mahomva said communication was key in attaining sustainable control of HIV.
“Communication on public health issues plays a pivotal role in our efforts to leave no one behind and see 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their status; 90 percent of those living with HIV on lifelong antiretroviral therapy; 90 percent achieving viral load suppression to eventually end AIDS by 2030.
“Social behaviour change communication provides a pillar of support to ensure that not only programmatic targets are met, but also that there is informed demand for health products and services for different community groups,” she said.
She also mentioned that significant progress has been made over the years but it failed cover all the HIV programmes.
“Investments have been made over the years in conducting Empathy, Insights and Prototyping (EIPs) for various HIV prevention programmes that have made it possible to understand clients’ perspectives and needs in their quest to seek health services and products.
“However, these innovations have not covered all the HIV programmes.
“With all these innovations and promising approaches, gaps still exist and some of the programmes continue to miss their targets. Specific population groups such as men, adolescents and key populations are lagging behind.
“With this in mind, the MoHCC with its partners in 2018 set to harmonise the communication approaches with the one key realisation that it is generally the same population groups that are being targeted with the different HIV programmes,” said Dr Mahomva.
Last week, MoCCC launched the Comprehensive National HIV Communications Strategy which will contribute effectively to improved reach of different population groups and create sustained demand for health products and services.