THE United States government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has approved plans to provide $526 million (equivalent to 1.17 trillion/-) over the coming year to combat HIV/AIDS in Tanzania.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, the funds will help lift the total number of Tanzanians undergoing proper HIV treatment to 1.2 million.
They will also advance the fight against the dreaded HIV virus through proper testing, treatment, viral suppression, and prevention measures, the aim being to reach the ultimate goal of completely eliminating AIDS in the country by the year 2030.
The funds will support activities under the PEPFAR country operational plan from October this year to September 2018, representing a 12.3 per cent increase on last year’s budget for the activities.
Under the renewed plan, PEPFAR will work with Tanzanian authorities and various implementing partners to provide HIV testing to 8.6 million Tanzanians and treatment to at least 360,000 of those who newly test positive.
There will be special funding allocations for the care and treatment of orphans and vulnerable children, and the prevention of gender-based violence. And to further prevent HIV transmission, PEPFAR will also support voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) for 890,000 men.
According to the statement, the plan continues a longstanding partnership between the US and Tanzania in the health sector, including a decade of collaboration to successfully curb HIV transmission in the country.
“Together, we are working to achieve an AIDS-free generation in Tanzania – one in which no one is left behind,” the embassy’s chargé d’affaires Virginia Blaser said.
The Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, said the funds have come at the right time for the ministry’s plans to reach at least 2.2 million people with ARVs services in the next fiscal year.According to Mwalimu, the support will help to reduce not only the number of new HIV infections, but also the number of AIDS deaths.
She said the ministry will continue to encourage and educate society on the importance of male circumcision in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
PEPFAR’s partners and stakeholders in the development and implementation of its plan include the health ministry, Tanzanian Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), and United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Also the Global Fund to Fight Tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria (GFTAM); World Health Organisation (WHO); Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Benjamin Mkapa HIV/AIDS Foundation (BMAF) and National Network of Tanzanian Women with HIV/AIDS (NETWO+).