LATE MUGABE AND HIS LEGACY ON HIV CONTROL IN ZIMBABWEadmin
Robert Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s first democratic leader after the country gained Britain in 1980. He is credited with formulating some of the policies that resulted in Zimbabwe making huge successes in many health and HIV issues in the country.
One of his vision was to ensure all citizens had access to health services by 2020. He also aimed at decentralizing HIV services so that people could access ART at clinics close to their residential location. To this end, he invested heavily in training health workers to effectively manage HIV.
His administration support the increase in the number of people on HIV treatment from 400 patients in 2004 to more than a million people in 2017.
Despite his well-documented anti-gay comments, late Robert Mugabe opened his doors to host the ICASA 2015 and had his government, through the former Minister of Health of Zimbabwe and current Vice President of Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), Hon. Dr. David Pagwesese Parirenyatwa, met with delegation of key population leaders to assure them of their safety and welcome during the conference.
His major success the result of his effective HIV prevention agenda in Zimbabwe, which lead to the first recorded decline in HIV prevalence in the SADC region.
To address the funding challenges resulting from donor support decline, Mugabe instituted and implemented a very unpopular decision to introduce a tax to fund the HIV response in 2001. The AIDS levy became a global best practice.
As the world mourns Mugabe a few months before ICASA 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda, it is important that we remain focused on the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. It is also important for leaders in the region to take leadership of their country HIV response and move away from the donor dependency syndrome to help ensure Africa protects the gains achieved with the HIV control.
Source: Raymond Yekeye, Zimbabwe, Director of Programme, National AIDS Council
20th September 2019