by Health Reporter| The Herald
Murambinda Mission Hospital has successfully switched about 16 000 people living with HIV and AIDS from the old anti-retroviral drugs to the new regimen, a senior health official has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of belated provincial World Aids Day commemorations for Manicaland recently in Murambinda, Buhera district medical officer Dr. Kwenzakwenkosi Ncube said the switch was necessitated by support from international donors such as the Medecins Sans Frontieres.
Dr. Ncube said all patients who were on the stavudine-based regimen had been moved to the new combination-tenofovir.
She said they had 16 000 patients, with some of them coming from different corners of the country.
“We have become a learning centre in the country,” Dr Ncube said.
Zimbabwe was using Stavudine-based triple combination before switching on to single dose Tenofovir. Although cheap, Stavudine had many side effects, which include uneven deposition of fats.
The new regimen is almost twice the price of the old drugs but has lesser side effects. Earlier on, Dr. Ncube read a speech on behalf of Manicaland provincial medical director Dr. Tapiwa Murambi who reiterated that the province was leading in the HIV response countrywide.
“As Manicaland we are indeed the wise men from the east, we are leading in the response to HIV,” said Dr. Murambi.
HIV prevalence in the province has gone down from 18 percent to 14 percent in 2012. The province has also decentralised voluntary male medical circumcision to all districts with the aim of circumcising over 80 percent of men between 10 and 49 years.
Dr. Murambi said the province had also introduced new programmes meant to improve the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS. These programmes include a nutritional assistance programme and sexual health programmes.
“Our response should be directed by evidence and is expected to change with time as HIV and AIDS is also dynamic,” Dr. Murambi said.
Manicaland provincial AIDS coordinator Mr. Lawrence Kupara said World Aids Day was the pinnacle of all HIV activities co-ordinated throughout the year. The World AIDS Day commemoration is held every December 1 and last year’s commemorations ran under the theme ‘Zero New Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-related Deaths’.
“The pursuit of the zeros will be underpinned by an emphasis to adopt and implement only evidence-informed high impact interventions,” Mr. Kupara said.
People living with HIV commended Government’s continued efforts to make treatment available and accessible to all those in need.
Through their representative Mr. Enock Musademba from the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV, they called for scrapping of user fees to enable them to access healthcare.
Mr. Musademba said ARVs were given free of charge but there were other hidden costs, which some people might fail to pay.
Hundreds of people from different sectors attended the celebration.