Govt’s move to build health posts good for VIC services – Musanje
Livingstone, July 08, 2013 , ZANIS….GOVERNMENT says its move to construct more health facilities in Southern Province will significantly accelerate Voluntary Counseling and Testing Services (VCT) and reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS.
Livingstone District Commissioner Omar Musanje says government’s move to construct 650 health centers countrywide out of which nine will be in Livingstone City will help to scale up the fight against
ZANIS reports that the District Commissioner said this during the commemoration of National Voluntary Counseling and Testing(VCT) day held over the weekend .
The theme of the celebration was , “ Reaching Everyone, Everywhere, with Annual HIV Counseling and Testing Services.”
Recently , government awarded tenders to three Indian companies to construct the 650 rural health posts.
During the signing Health minister Joseph Kasonde revealed that the project involves the construction of prefabricated structures.
Dr Kasonde said the three firms will also install essential medical equipment in the 650 health posts to be constructed country wide.
The tenders were awarded to Jaguar Overseas to construct the health posts on the Copper belt and Eastern Provinces at a total cost of 19,468,236 US dollars.
Another Indian company, Angelique Limited won the tender to construct rural health posts in North-Western, Northern, Muchinga and Luapula Provinces at a total cost of 18,100,000 US dollars.
Another firm called Megha Medical Centres will work on the health posts in Western, Southern and Lusaka Provinces at a cost of 18,387,160 United States dollars.
The Zambian government acquired a credit line amounting to K 260 billion from EXIM Bank of India for the construction of 650 rural health posts across the country.
The District Commissioner explained that following this development , VCT services would be easily accessed to many.
He added that government was committed to ensure that as many people as possible have easy access to these services everywhere in the country.
“My government is working with various stakeholders in scaling up efforts to open as many health facilities as possible where people can have easy access to VCT services and it is in this vein that it
(government) is in the process of constructing 650 health centers countrywide nine of which will be in Livingstone,” said Mr. Musanje.
He also noted that the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism General Assembly (UNWTO) will bring some challenges as many people will be engaged in sex trade.
“The co-hosting of this event comes with it a lot of responsibilities in almost all areas of our lives but we should also be alive to the fact that with the influx of people that will be in our city, commercial sex activities will likely to be on the upswing and this therefore a call for us to send cautionary messages to our local people as well as visitors, ” said Mr. Musanje.
The HIV/AIDS National prevalence rate stands at 14.3 per cent while that of the Tourist Capital stands 27.2 per cent representing 12. 9 per cent higher than national average.
However, Mr. Musanje acknowledge shortage of practicing VCT counselors, inadequate information reaching the public on the availability of VCT services and inadequate infrastructure in most VCT
centers as some of the challenges hindering the sustained efforts in HIV prevention efforts.
Meanwhile, Livingstone AIDS Taskforce Chairperson Mr. Eurgine Kamuti said it was regrettable that new infection and re-infection continue to be recorded despite the numerous efforts being made by the Taskforce and other stakeholders in the city.
He assured the government that the Livingstone HIV/AIDS Taskforce was working around the clock to ensure that Livingstone residents are well informed about the various social challenges that will come with the UNWTO.
And Network of Zambian People living with HIV/AIDS District Coordinator, Royd Bwalya advised the government to seriously look into the issues of shortages of drugs in Health facilities adding that this
compromises the health of people on Anti-Retro Viral Treatment (ART).
He observed that the recent shortages of ARVs in the country should not repeat itself adding that this endangers the lives of people on ART.
“It is the duty of government to ensure that all essential medicines are made available and accessible at all times in our health facilities,” Mr. Bwalya said.