The European Union has affirmed its continued fight against HIV/AIDS in Zambia in commemorating World Aids Day 2013. The EU has since 2009 provided 32 Million Euros in Sector Budget Support for health and continues to do so in line with this year’s World AIDS Day theme: to get to zero new infections, zero deaths and zero stigma discrimination.
As of 2013, a EUR 50 million project will start in 10 districts that will focus on maternal and child health services and will include integrated HIV services. In addition, another EUR 18 million project on health systems strengthening will start next year to strengthen drug supply systems.
Every year, 2.3 million people get infected with HIV, with 1.6 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by the disease. AIDS still is one of the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa. There are 1,100,000 people living with HIV in Zambia (2012), of which about 121,000 are young people aged 15-24, the majority of them young women.
Even though there has been a lot of progress in fighting HIV AIDS in Zambia, EU delegation in the country says there is no time to relax in the fight against this deadly epidemic. “Zambia has made good progress but there is no room for complacency. To strengthen Action on HIV in Zambia – we support the strengthening of health service delivery – particularly the services for pregnant women and adolescents. “
With three young Zambians getting infected with HIV every day – of which two are girls, the EU says access to HIV prevention and access to high-quality, youth-friendly HIV and sexual reproductive health services is crucial.
It has also highlighted the need to combat stigma in the fight against HIV. It says, “People living with HIV often face stigma and discrimination. This applies not only to healthcare settings, but also to the workplace and other everyday life situations. HIV- related stigma and discrimination is a serious hurdle in the fight against HIV-AIDS, as it can discourage people from being tested and seeking treatment.”
The EU says combating HIV/AIDS is possible and it will remain committed to working with the government of the Republic of Zambia to fight this epidemic.
By Hope Mkunte