Conflicting data on HIV/Aids

Thursday September 12 2019

 

By Zephania Ubwani @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Arusha. The government says it is concerned by lack of a uniform national health data system, saying statistics by different organisations were doing no good for the sector.

The deputy minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile said here yesterday that conflicting statistics only confused the policy makers instead of tackling basic health challenges facing the country.

“There should be one national data system for health,” he insisted. He said statistics on HIV/Aids prevalence in the country were even more confusing because different organizations involved in the fight against the epidemic were at times releasing different figures.

“There should be one national data for HIV/Aids,” he said when he opened the HIV Dissemination Conference which attracted a number of local and international organizations involved in the epidemic’s control programmes.

He suggested that the data systems for HIV/Aids and other national health programmes should be properly coordinated at the national level by the vetted institutions. Dr Ndugulile also challenged the all sectoral health programmes, especially those working on HIV/Aids too work collaboratively. The deputy minister’s remarks came after one speaker after another talked on their strategies in battling with the killer disease, illustrating their presentations with statistics.

The institutions involved include the US Centre for Disease Control, Tanzania Country Office, the Tanzania Commission for Aids (Tacaids), the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and the ministry. Others are UNaids, specialized agency of the United Nations, Amref Health Africa, and PEPFAR, the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, among others.

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Dr Ndugulile, said although HIV prevalence in the country has steadily declined from seven per cent in 2003 to 4.7 per cent in 2016, the risk was still high in some populations.

These include the people who inject drugs, youth, migrants, mobile populations and prisoners. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Tanzanians on antiretroviral drugs (ART).

He added that currently 61 per cent of People Living with HIV (PLHIVs) know their status while 98 per cent of those tested are on ART and 87 per cent virally suppressed.

Dr Prosper Njau from the National Aids Control Programme said HIV incidence and prevalence remains higher among young women in the southern highlands regions.

He said, quoting the Tanzania HIV Impact Survey report released recently that 72,000 people are contracted with HIV virus every year, meaning 6,000 each month and about 200 a day.

NIMR director general Prof Yunus Mgaya emphasized that control of the HIV/Aids epidemic, by 2030 as declared by the UN, required a multi-sectoral integrated approach.

He added that NIMR would promote sharing of scientific findings to attain the goal and that it would work closely with the development partners, researchers and policy makers.