The provision of anti-retroviral drugs to children living with HIV and Aids should remain a priority in Mashonaland West, an official from the National Aids Council has said.
In an interview recently, NAC provincial chairman for Mashonaland West Mr Agrippa Zizhou said the number of children in need of anti-retroviral therapy was on the decline.
The number of 10 745 children on ART in Mashonaland West, he said, remained high.
“In areas such as Makonde and Mhondoro we are still miles away in children on ART coverage with 37 percent and 36 percent, respectively, said Mr Zizhou.
“It is also worrisome that out of 1 078 children living with HIV and Aids in Mhondoro only 36 percent of them received ART.”
Mr Zizhou attributed the decrease in the number of children in Mashonaland West needing ART to effective Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programmes.
“The introduction of the PMTCT programmes significantly reduced the transmission of HIV from mother to child hence promoting the birth of HIV-free babies,” he said.
The official said the victims suffer from stigma and visited hospitals when it was too late.
“The children are orphans suffering from emotional and physical abuse by their guardians who are failing to take proper care of them,” the official said.
“Surprisingly, most the children will not be on ART. Those registered also lack supervision and sometimes default and no one realises that or the medication is wrongly taken.”
Mashonaland West, in 2017, recorded an estimated number of 394 children dying from HIV and Aids-related ailments.
In a separate development, Government is committed to taking care of disadvantaged children as evidenced by its social welfare programmes that include the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), Shamva district administrator Mr White Nkoma has said.
Mr Nkoma said when the society continues engaging children it reduces incidences of early pregnancies and early sexual debut which leads to STIs and HIV/AIDS.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has always been caring for children and will continue to do so as it is constitutionally mandated to do so .The Government through the Department of Social Welfare has programmes that include BEAM that caters for fees for the less privileged. It also distributes food to orphans,” he said.
“When we keep on engaging children, we reduce incidences of early pregnancies, early sexual debut which leads to contracting of STIs and HIV. Children who engage in sports seldom participate in crime and drug abuse .Those that do so will never excel and I hope and trust that children here will not fall into the trap that extends poverty in families and communities.”
He added that research had shown that children who engaged in sports and arts activities would develop life skills better which include creativity, quick decision- making and team work, as well as cherish relationships, interaction, understanding people and surroundings which are all essential for growth.
Mr Nkoma said some of the benefits of sports and arts include helping the child to stay fit and remain healthy, teaching rules, providing relaxation, obedience, discipline, patience, honest, self-denial in addition to preparing one to be resilient when life is at its best or worst, so this event was more than a sport and arts competition but a platform for participation and learning.