Ur­gent need to grow Aids fund

There is need to en­sure that the home fund to the HIV pan­demic grows.

The Manica Post - - Health/Faith - Cather­ine Murombedzi Feed­back: cathymwauyak­ufa@gmail.com

AN AN­A­LYST said there was need to en­sure that mech­a­nisms are put in place to cre­ate jobs as soon as pos­si­ble in or­der to grow the Na­tional AIDS Trust Fund (NATF) so as to up the AIDS Levy.

The AIDS Levy ought to be aug­mented by per­ma­nent mech­a­nisms that will see a con­tin­u­a­tion of treat­ment in case donor funds de­crease.

Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa hit the ground run­ning at the end of Novem­ber 2017 dur­ing his in­au­gu­ra­tion where he promised job cre­ation to re­sus­ci­tate the econ­omy.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs . . .,” he called for job cre­ation.

When pro­duc­tion lev­els im­prove tax col­lec­tions will im­prove.

All em­ploy­ees lo­cally con­trib­ute 3 per­cent to the NATF through cor­po­rate tax col­lected by the Zimbabwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (ZIMRA).

ZIMRA through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) col­lects the de­duc­tion of 3 per­cent of tax­able in­come and for­wards it to the Na­tional AIDS Coun­cil (NAC).

The fund was cre­ated through an Act of Par­lia­ment in 1999 when the pan­demic was de­clared a na­tional dis­as­ter.

In 2016 NAC col­lected $36 mil­lion, a drop from the $38 mil­lion col­lected in 2014.

Due to job losses the fund is ex­pected to col­lect less in the year end­ing De­cem­ber 2017.

More ways are needed to col­lect more rev­enue to the fund.

Small-scale min­ers are ex­pected to for­malise op­er­a­tions through reg­is­ter­ing to the par­ent min­istry. We ex­pect a boost to the NATF cof­fers from this.

Com­pa­nies ow­ing ZIMRA must also pay.

ZIMRA re­ported that 15 State en­ter­prises owed it more than $170 mil­lion and if these en­ter­prises owned up it will help the fund grow.

The Global Fund, USAID, EGPAF and part­ners con­tinue to con­trib­ute the bulk of ART fund­ing in Zimbabwe.

With a to­tal 1,3 mil­lion Zim­bab­weans liv­ing with HIV, a to­tal of 850 000 are on an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy (ART) with the bal­ance wait­ing to be ini­ti­ated on ART.

The do­mes­tic fund sup­ports a tenth of the to­tal on ART.

Com­par­ing with our neigh­bours Botswana their re­liance on donor fund is min­i­mal.

The Botswana Na­tional AIDS Co-or­di­nat­ing Agency (NACA), which falls un­der the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, co-or­di­nates the multi-sec­toral re­sponse and ad­min­is­ters the fund just as our lo­cal NAC.

The Botswana fund started in 1999 through a di­rec­tive by the pres­i­dent sup­ports 80 per­cent of the ART needs. Donors sup­port 20 per­cent of the needs.

The coun­try has a public pri­vate part­ner­ship pro­gramme where pa­tients on ART and are sta­ble get to be trans­ferred from State hos­pi­tals to pri­vate doc­tors.

The doc­tors are given a ne­go­ti­ated fee eas­ing the strain on state in­sti­tu­tions.

Lab­o­ra­to­ries are also paid at the ne­go­ti­ated rate.

Vi­ral loads which de­ter­mine the amount of HIV virus in one’s body are ex­pen­sive with a test run­ning at $100 lo­cally and out of the reach for many.

Less than a quar­ter of peo­ple on public health have un­der­gone a vi­ral load.

A vi­ral load is the gold stan­dard of check­ing ef­fi­cacy of med­i­ca­tion in one tak­ing ART.

Pre­ven­tion re­mains the corner­stone to halt­ing new in­fec­tions.

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