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PMTC programme to precede ICASA 2023



A Prevention of Mother to Child transmission (PMTC) of HIV programme  will precede this year’s 22nd edition of the biennial International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted  Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA), for the first time in history.


This was revealed by former Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, who is the ICASA president, in his address to journalists at a news conference in Harare on Monday ahead of the prestigious event slated for 4 and 9 December in Zimbabwe’s capital city.

 “One event before IACSA will be looking at the elimination of the mother to child transmissions of HIV and will be spearheaded by African First Ladies and chaired by First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa,” he said.

 In the absence of intervention, the rate of transmission of HIV from a mother living with HIV to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding ranges from 15% to 45%, globally.

 A journal that deepens understanding of PMTC in Zimbabwe titled:  “Determinants of comprehensive knowledge of mother to child transmission (MTCT) of HIV and its prevention among Zimbabwean women: Analysis of 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey,” shows the scourge needs control.

 Part of it reads:

 “Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV contributes to about 6.4% of all new pediatric HIV infections in Zimbabwe.

 “Women’s comprehensive knowledge of MTCT of HIV and its prevention is associated with poor utilization of MTCT services and therefore new pediatric HIV infections.”

 The PMTC programme ahead of IACSA 2023 in Harare will therefore go a long way in stitching measures to eliminate MTCT in Zimbabwe and the African continent at large.

 In another rare phenomenon during Monday’s news conference, Dr Parirenyatwa said ahead of ICASA, Finance Ministers will also gather to discuss additional funding for the fight towards ending AIDS.

Zimbabwe has a target of ending AIDS and new HIV infections by 2030.

 “The second event will be a gathering of African Ministers of Finance to increase domestic funding towards the response to HIV TB Malaria and other infectious diseases,” he said.

 ICASA offers an African platform for leaders, scientists, activists and community to frame the challenges, track the science and push innovation in the HIV response.

National AIDS Council (NAC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Benard Madzima reiterated that holistic preparations for ICASA 2023, are now complete as well as other key logistics.

He also stressed that most importantly, all ground and air transport arrangements for delegates to the global event slated for December 4 to 9 2023 in Harare have been put together.

8 000 delegates are expected to throng Harare for the ICASA 2023.

Dr Madzima said this again during the hybrid Curtain Raiser ICASA news conference in Harare on Monday 30 October.

“In terms of transportation, both ground and air transportation we have made sure that all is in place. We have a steady inflow of airlines which is adequate to cover our inflow of visitors during the ICASA.

“ We have also mobilised ground transport services with an agreed standard fair. All designated vehicles for pick-up and drop off points will be marked,” said Dr Madzima.

On the issue of Visas, Dr Madzima called on delegates and visitors that require a visa to enter Zimbabwe to commence the Visa Application process early and to check whether they need the visa before traveling or on arrival.

 Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) allayed fears that the ongoing Cholera scourge will scuttle the ICASA event.

Zimbabwe has been recording incessant cases of Cholera mostly in rural communities and some peri-urban centres over the past few months.

At one time panic buttons were pressed over fears in some circles that the outbreak could subsequently affect ICASA.

However Dr Aspect Muanganidze, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health said there was nothing to fear as Cholera was now under control.

“As you are all aware, Zimbabwe will be hosting the 22nd edition of the ICASA in just over a month now. Our health systems and services have also been mobilised to ensure that both visitors and locals have access to the needed services during the conference,” he said, adding:

“You may have heard recently that there was an outbreak of Cholera in some parts of Zimbabwe. I wish to assure you all and our visitors that the isolated outbreak has been contained and our surveillance system is exceptionally effective and has picked all cases and have been treated.”

As at October, 29 2023, 108 new suspected cholera cases were recorded while three suspected deaths and two laboratory confirmed results were reported. The cases were reported from Chitungwiza City (34), Buhera (31), Harare (11), Mutare (11), Gutu (11), Zaka (4),Chipinge (3), Chegutu (2) and Sanyati (1).43 districts have reported cases so far in the country. As of 29 October 2023, 102 were hospitalized countrywide in areas like Chiredzi (2), Zaka (3), Gutu (6) Bikita (3) in Masvingo Province, Buhera (38),Chipinge (13), Mutare Rural (14) Chimanimani (1) Makoni (2) in Manicaland Province. 10 cases were in Harare Province ,Chitungwiza City (4) , UMP (1) in Mash East Province, Chegutu (3) Sanyati (1) in Mashonaland West Province and Bindura (1) in Mashonaland Central Province.Tests done were 1 658 RDT, 407 RDT positive (24.2 % positivity) and Culture 3 229 culture done, 1 055 culture positive (33.1 % positivity). 34 New recoveries were recorded and the National Recovery Rate stands at 97 % of the 102 cases in-care.

The cumulative total of cases as at 29 October were 5 964 suspected cholera cases, 1 055 confirmed cases, 5 696 recoveries, 43 Confirmed deaths and 123 suspected deaths.

However Dr Maunganidze said against this background of the water disease, Zimbabwe will be a safe place for ICASA delegates in Harare.

“All delegates (for ICASA) are assured that Zimbabwean remains a peaceful destination and their security will be assured. Our providers of accommodation services are all ready to provide services during the ICASA. As part of ICASA preparations, Zimbabwe is going to host two high level meetings,” he said.

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