The Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health has created a huge volunteer network that is aimed at taking health services closer to the people than before.
Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Joseph Katema said this underscores government’s commitment to providing quality health care in all communities across the country.
Dr. Katema said this in Lusaka today when he officiated at the launch of the Max M and Marjorie S Fisher Community and Training Centre which was set up by American Philanthropist Mary Fisher in partnership with the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
The centre seeks to empower persons living with HIV/AIDS in surrounding areas such as Kalikiliki, Mtendere and Chianda communities through development sensitisation activities and other support.
He said there was need for improved HIV/AIDS sensitisation to let people understand that having the virus that causes AIDS does not mean the end of life.
Munali Member of Parliament (MP) Nkandu Luo said centre will benefit the area not only with health services but various other skills which were crucial in avoiding risky behaviours and environments.
Professor Luo, who is also Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, has since called on other organisations and cooperating partners to emulate CIDRZ’s work whom she said were very resourceful in sourcing for funds and integrating their programmes.
She said the country expects to see a reduction in viral infections through various programmes at the centre.
Meanwhile, United States (US) Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella said there was need to decrease stigma associated with testing for HIV in order to achieve an AIDS free generation.
Mr. Storella called for partnership between the public sector, private sector, communities and individuals to ensure an AIDS free generation in Zambia.
He stressed that it was only through understanding, involvement and support from communities that the fight against HIV/AIDS can be successful.
Earlier, CIDRZ Director Charles Holmes and CDC Director Lawrence Marum commended government for its continued support towards organisations that were contributing to communities’ improved welfare.
Dr. Holmes said without government support, CIDRZ would not have been able to improve the living conditions of HIV positive people in the country.
And Dr. Marum said CDC was impressed with the leadership in the health sector which has shown passion and commitment which is crucial in meeting health challenges.