Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has sourced machines designed to carry out Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) of HIV which are expected to improve maternal and child health.
The First Lady, who is the ambassador for maternal and child health, sourced the machines through the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
This will help mothers to know the HIV status of their babies at birth.
Over 100 machines were distributed early this year from Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW) of the United Kingdom with support from the Global Fund and these mainly focused on viral load testing.
The machines sourced by the First Lady also carry out viral load testing but will mainly focus on early infant diagnosis.
Amai Mnangagwa sourced 10 additional machines from the same manufacturer and these were handed over by DRW chief executive Professor Helen Lee yesterday.
The machines are known as Simple Amplification Based Assay (SAMBA).
Currently, testing for HIV in infants is done at six weeks and results are released after about 10 weeks.
In her remarks after receiving the 10 machines, Amai Mnangagwa said the donation will help in the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV as infection is detected early and treated.
“As you all know that the Government has the drive to take health to its people, this donation is one such innovation towards this goal,” she said.
“This donation is in line with improving maternal child health for our women and the children. It will go a long way in supporting the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV as HIV infection is detected very early and treatment initiated right away.
“This enables the achievement of an AIDS free generation as more and more children will receive timeous treatment after being tested early.”
Amai Mnangagwa said she would make sure that women and children in remote areas benefited from the new technology.
“I will not hesitate to say the people of Kanyemba will also benefit from this donation looking at their proximity from accessing such a service among other beneficiaries,” she said.
“I understand that the technology is easy to use and does not need specialised laboratory set-up and thus it can be placed in the simplest health facility while delivering a high-quality service.
“I am looking forward to an improved service delivery at the beneficiary sites and the Government will continue to open its arms to such good gestures which improve the health of our people.”
Speaking at the same event, Deputy Health and Child Care Minister Dr John Mangwiro said Zimbabwe has an estimated 1,4 million people living with HIV and control was critical for the health of the nation.
He said since January to date, about 17 000 viral load tests had so far been carried out using the machines which were procured through the Global Fund.
“With this donation that will test for HIV infection in babies, Zimbabwe is really grateful,” he said.
“We want to make sure that 90 percent of our people living with HIV know their status and that 90 percent of them are put on treatment and of those on treatment, 90 percent are virally suppressed so that they reduce the risk of transmission. I am proud to say that Zimbabwe is making great efforts to achieve these 90-90-90 targets.”
Prof Lee applauded the First Lady for the work she is doing in the health sector.
“I have read about your First Lady and I must say that Zimbabwe is very lucky to have a mother of the nation like her,” she said.
“I hope very much that we will be able to continue to contribute and to be useful.”