UNITED States of America (USA), through the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), will use at least US$150 000 to help fight COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, specifically targeting people living with HIV and Aids.
The funds are in addition to the United States Agency for International Development (USAid)’s $470 000 contribution to the World Health Organisation to support Zimbabwe’s fight against COVID-19, announced on March 27.
The money will be used to purchase soap, buckets, handwashing stations and hand sanitisers for supported facilities and the reproduction of COVID-19 communication materials to be shared at supported facilities and through faith and community networks around Zimbabwe.
Three PEPFAR clinical implementing partners, OPHID, I-TECH and ZACH, will carry out the activities.
“The United States is committed to continued care and treatment for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Zimbabwe,” Kenneth Wetzel, the US embass public affairs officer said in a statement yesterday.
“PLHIV, who are not on treatment or virally suppressed may be at greater risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19, therefore, there is need to take precautions, including keeping at least three-months supply of ARVs in their homes, washing hands frequently, practicing social spacing and avoiding others who are sick.”
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People living with HIV and Aids have been classified as immune compromised as their ability to fight infections is reduced, hence they are at high risk of developing complications if they contract COVID-19.
Wetzel added: “PEPFAR’s efforts in supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to ensure that PLHIV have the best possible outcomes within the context of over-stretched healthcare systems.
“Through this funding, the World Health Organisation will help with life-saving activities such as preparing laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19, implementing a public-health emergency plan for points of entry, and activating case-finding and evidence-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses.”