New hope for Tanzania HIV fight

Saturday June 23 2018

Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly

Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children minister Ummy Mwalimu 

By Samuel Kamndaya @TindwaSamuel

Dodoma. Tanzania will receive over $590 million (about Sh1.3 trillion) in grants from the Global Fund to boost the country’s efforts in fighting HIV/Aids, TB and malaria, the government has confirmed.

Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children minister Ummy Mwalimu said the agreement to that effect has already been signed.

“The Global Fund has been our major partner in health. Apart from what they have already given us, we recently signed a new agreement that will see them giving us another Sh1.3 trillion in funding for the three diseases,” said Ms Mwalimu.

She was speaking during a function to hand over buildings for the Mvumi Institute of Health Sciences here on Thursday. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa graced the occasion.

The minister told The Citizen that the money covers the two-year period 2018-2020.

An estimated 1.4 million people are living with HIV/Aids in Tanzania – but only 52 per cent of them are aware of their condition, data from Tanzania Commission for Aids (Tacaids) shows.

The new Global Fund grants aim to reduce the average malaria prevalence in Tanzania to less than 1 (one) per cent by 2020 as well as reduce the TB incidence rate by 20 per cent and TB deaths by 35 per cent by 2020.

It also seeks to increase the coverage of HIV services to achieve the 90-90-90 fast-track treatment targets, which Prime Minister Majaliwa launched here earlier this week.

The 90-90-90 stands for: 90 per cent of people living with HIV should know their HIV status, 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status should have access to treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads by 2020.

“As the ambassador of the government’s new HIV-testing drive, I want to take this opportunity to remind you – especially men – to test and know your status,” the PM said.

“We have the medicines required in case you test positive.”

Tanzania has already received a total of $1.95 billion (about Sh4.3 trillion) from the Global Fund to help fight the three diseases and improve the country’s health delivery systems for a period of 15 years starting 2003, according to the Health minister.

From that fund, Sh5.265 billion was spent on the Mvumi Institute of Health Sciences project, which was coordinated by the government and implemented by the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), according to a representative of the CSSC, Bishop Amon Kinyunyu.

Speaking during the event to officially open the building block Thursday, Mr Majaliwa urged Mvumi residents to take advantage of the health facility and available heath experts to go for HIV testing in line with the ongoing national campaign.

The building block is complete with three semi-detached and fully-furnished staff houses, two fully-furnished students’ hostels (each with a capacity of accommodating 400 occupants).

Work on the building block also included the refurbishment of a dining hall and a building that contains a library, laboratory and lecture rooms.

The Mvumi Institute of Health Sciences – complete with the Mvumi Hospital – which is a District Hospital-designate for Chamwino District - is owned by the Anglican Church.

Ms Mwalimu said the upgrading of facilities was part of the government’s wider goal to increase the number of health sector professionals across the country.

She said her ministry has received an approval from the Ministry of State in the President’s Office (Public Service and Good Governance) to employ 8,000 new health sector workers before the end of next month (July 2018).