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Boost for country’s fight to end AIDS

image HAPPY: Prime Minister Dr Sibusiso Dlamini with US Ambassador Lisa Peterson, NERCHA Director Khanya Mabuza and Minister of Health Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane during the announcement of the Swaziland HIV Incident Measurement Survey Findings at the Cabinet Off

Swaziland has made momentous strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS as the second Swaziland HIV Incidence Measurement Survey (SHIMS 2,) findings have revealed. there has been a major increase, from 34.8 per cent to 71.3 per cent in the extent of viral load suppression among those on anti-retroviral treatment (ART).

The findings further revealed that the annual rate of new infections as a proportion of the Swazi population has been reduced from 2.5 per cent from 2011 to 1.4 per cent in 2016.

“The key message today is that we, as a nation, have achieved a significant reduction in new infections.  

The rapid scale up of a comprehensive HIV response, including prevention and treatment, in the past five years has made a very significant impact” said the prime minister.

 suppressing

These two major victorious impact indicators, the incidence of new HIV infections and the effectiveness in suppressing viral load through anti-retroviral treatment were announced by the Prime Minister Dr Sibusiso Dlamini at the high level announcement of results of the second SHIMS survey at Cabinet yesterday. 

 The meeting was attended by cabinet ministers, the US Ambassador Lisa Peterson, PEPFAR partners and relevant stakeholders.

The prime minister revealed that the indicators focus on the selected group of 18-49 years.  

proportion

“Firstly, the annual rate of new infections as a proportion of our population has been reduced from 2.5 per cent in 2010-2011, to 1.4 per cent in 2015-2016. That is no less than a 44 per cent reduction in new infections. Furthermore, for the same age group, we have achieved an increase, from 34.8 per cent to 71.3 per cent, in the extent of viral load suppression among those on anti-retroviral treatment (ART)”, he said.

Dlamini further said these findings strongly indicate that a much higher proportion of those on ART are taking their treatment more consistently, a vital routine that also has to be sustained for an individual’s protection from any slide from HIV into AIDS. 

 achieving

He applauded those on ART for consistently taking their medication and thus achieving that greatly improved impact of treatment.

“Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of progress in the war against HIV and AIDS is one of our fundamental pillars. 

 SHIMS conducted in 2011, and again in 2016, is part of the national M&E plan and we are proud to be the first country in the world to have used this highly robust, out-in-the-field system to measure the impact of the national response, which has produced the results dissemination today”, said the Prime minister.

 

‘King was very instrumental in SD achieving results’ 

The Prime Minister Dr Sibusiso Dlamini said His Majesty King Mswati III has been instrumental in achieving the major increase, from 34.8 per cent to 71.3 per cent in the extent of viral load suppression among those on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and the reduced new infection from 2.5 per cent in 2011 to 1.4 per cent in 2016.

The prime minister said the data presented is the nation’s collective efforts. “The efforts were started in earnest when His Majesty King Mswati III declared HIV and AIDS as a national disaster in 1999.  At a stroke, the national political commitment was ignited and has been sustained ever since. 

 Though not without the nation having to tackle enormous challenges, not least with extensive stigma and denial”, he said. 

Dlamini said in the national fight against HIV and AIDS, Their Majesties have demonstrated leadership that has galvanised the nation’s determination in “indzaba yetfu sonkhe”. “We are eternally grateful to them.

allocations

 In addition to this political commitment at the highest level, we have seen the actual budget allocations for the HIV and AIDS programme sustained and ring-fenced from any fiscal adjustment in the context of scarce public sector resources” , he remarked. 

The prime minister said the Kings’ aim is reducing and, ideally, eliminating, the incidence of new HIV infections. 

 recognised 

He said His Majesty King Mswati III has included in Vision 2022 the target of an AIDS-free nation by that date.  “That dovetails with the globally recognised Three Zero targets:  zero deaths in AIDS, zero new infections and zero stigma against HIV and AIDS.  In aggregate, these represent quite a challenge and I do urge our highly experienced HIV and AIDS professionals to keep the nation informed on progress towards the three zeros in much the same way as we are today reporting on the rate of new infections”, he said.

 

‘Scaling up of intervention helped attain results’

The Prime Minister Dr Barnabas Dlamini said after 2011, there has been a rapid scaling-up of HIV prevention and treatment interventions.

He said after 2011 there was a rapid scaling up of HIV prevention and treatment interventions such as ART, male circumcision, HIV testing services and the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

“In the frontline artillery assault force, so to speak, we have seen, at health care service points, strategic teams consisting of medical officers, nurses, allied health workers, expert clients and community workers, coming together  to ensure that people understand HIV and the interventions offered to them”, remarked the prime minister. 

He said communities, social and cultural structures have provided valuable peer and family support to clients in prevention and treatment interventions.  “We have seen community gardens, feeding schemes, prevention programmes in communities and schools, and the introduction of HIV services in the private sector. Through the clearly defined national plan and coordination mechanism at NERCHA, we have received immeasurable support from development partners such as the UN Global Fund and other members of the UN family, as well as from PEPFAR, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative. For this support we are immensely grateful”, he remarked.

Dlamini further highlighted that resource support for SHIMS 1 and 2, was from PEPFAR, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP).  He said these partnerships have also facilitated a substantial skills transfer from international to national teams. 

 
 
 

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