By Paidamoyo Chipunza
The United States government will maintain funding for HIV interventions to Zimbabwe regardless of its new administration, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas Jr has said.
Addressing journalists during a tour of the OK-PEPFAR First Street stage during the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) recently, Ambassador Thomas said international aid was not cut in the country’s budget announced recently.
“We are very heartened that our Congress just passed the budget within the last few days and our President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding is remaining constant,” he said. “In fact, it will likely grow to almost $150 million next year.
“This means we are able to continue saving lives through PEPFAR as well as feed about 2,4 million people a day in Zimbabwe through other assistance programmes. International aid has not been affected. Congress did not cut international aid.”
Ambassador Thomas’ remarks followed fears by many that people depending on the US Government’s support for either medication or food might suffer if President Donald Trump insisted on cutting international aid.
President Trump had indicated on several platforms his intention to cut his country’s budget by $18 billion, suggesting cuts in social services to achieve the target.
Since 2006, PEPFAR has provided nearly $800 million to Zimbabwe for HIV interventions.
Over the past two years, PEPFAR’s allocation of resources focused on achieving the greatest impact in a short space of time by focusing on geographic areas with the highest burden of the disease.
“These areas are home to at least 80 percent of Zimbabweans living with HIV and receive a comprehensive package of HIV services tailored by age, sex and risk for their populations,” said Mark Troger, PEPFAR Zimbabwe coordinator.
Zimbabwe also benefits from the United States government through the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is the largest contributor.
Over 700 000 of the estimated 1,2 million Zimbabweans living with HIV are supported by the Global Fund.
Majority of tuberculosis and malaria interventions in the country are also supported by the Global Fund.