Like many single mothers who have been outcast after testing HIV positive, Tambudzai has had a tough time. She was born to poor parents and has lived much of her life on the margins of society. But one day an outreach worker knocked on her door and advised her to seek help. She now receives free anti-retroviral treatment and counselling at a clinic in her village.
Although the prevalence of HIV has gone down in Zimbabwe, it still remains among the highest in the world. Approximately 14.9 percent of the country’s 12.9 million population is living with HIV, reports UNAIDS. Nearly 1,300 lives are lost weekly from HIV-related illnesses, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. That the country has nonetheless made enormous progress in combating the pandemic is due in no small measure to a partnership between The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. The partnership has enabled many people infected with HIV to live healthy lives, thanks to the provision of special anti-retroviral treatment (ART). High-quality free treatment is now widely available across the country.
“Today many people are alive thanks to this support.” says Tambudzai (27). “More and more people are being treated every day.”
Tambu (as she is known) is a subsistence farmer in Buhera, a dry district 170 kms south east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare. She lives with her elderly parents and her daughter three-year old daughter, Nyasha, who is HIV-negative. Tambu works as a casual labourer in neighbours' fields but her income is low.
Initially, the high cost of ART and the poor distribution of medicines prevented many HIV-positive people from getting the help they needed. Central to making treatment more widely available has been the Global Fund’s collaboration with the UN World Food Programme’s Logistics unit in Zimbabwe. Together, they have ensured the timely delivery of essential drugs and medicines to ensure the right treatment is provided at the right time to those in need.
“The fight against HIV goes beyond pharmaceutical considerations and the medical ward,” says WFP Country Director Sory Ouane. “It’s a multi-faceted and complex issue which calls for multi-dimensional solutions and equally important is the provision of logistical expertise with procurement, handling, storage and distribution of the medicines.”
WFP has been at the forefront of humanitarian logistics in Zimbabwe, delivering much-needed food assistance across the country. In addition, its role has also been increasingly to provide logistics services to Government, development and humanitarian partners and various UN agencies including the Global Fund. This support helps strengthen the supply chain and stock management to ensure that much needed assistance is delivered on time and at the right place.