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Sickening fraud hogs AIDS funds

…Dark days for embezzlers coming as premier orders exhaustive audit

THE government has tasked AIDS Committees in the country and ordered a thorough audit to uncover alleged misappropriation of resources donated by the state and other supporters in fighting HIV-AIDS.

Announcing the move here yesterday, the Minister for State, Prime Minister’s Office (Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disabilities) Jenista Mhagama said all AIDS committees should be efficient and observe ethics governing their positions.

The minister was speaking as she graced the climax of the World Aids Day which was commemorated at the national level here, representing the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

Ms Mhagama revealed that the Premier had directed for strict scrutiny of all AIDS committees amid allegations of misuse of resources allocated to support the battle against the pandemic in the country.

“The Prime Minister has noted with concern a tendency of these committees operating for their own benefits and not for the community they are intending to serve.

A strict performance audit should be carried out to uncover misconducts among them,” she said.

The minister reacted to a number of messages as given by different partners on the state of HIV in the country with statistics revealing an alarming prevalence among the youth’s groups, particularly students in the Higher Learning Institutions countrywide.

Students most affected by HIV It was revealed that Aids is apparently shattering young people’s opportunities for healthy adult lives, with latest data showing that 40 per cent of the new HIV infections are with the youth generation mainly in secondary schools and Universities and 80 per cent of those being females.

Minister Mhagama said the government has received findings by the partners on the worrying situation and was set to launch special intervention in all Higher Learning Institutions where it was revealed, unofficial courtship and marriages were taking place.

“We are quite aware of this new phenomenon in our schools and before February next year, the government will come up with strategic approach targeting to rescue our children in dangerous sexual relationships,” said the minister.

She was of the view that while tribal practices were legally allowable in the country, unethical and dangerous practices should be watched since they pose as potential perpetrators of HIV transmissions in the society.

The Minister thanked development partners pumping funds for HIV-AIDS basket and challenged the general public to start contributing to the AIDS Trust Fund now fully operational but with lack of reliable resources.

Giving her remarks, the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu said by September this year 1.2million people were living with HIV.

Ms Mwalimu revealed further that over 4 million men have gone through voluntary circumcision for the last ten years as part of interventions sought to reduce the rate of spread of HIV infection.

She said Voluntary Screening and Testing Centers have increased from 3000 in 2015 to 6000 this year, while over 200 digital X-ray machines and 400 CD4 count machines have been supplied countrywide.

Earlier, a representative from the Development Partners Group-AIDS Dr Hiltruda Temba from the American Embassy challenged the government to make sure more internal revenues are sourced to fund AIDS interventions in the country.

She said over the last ten years, around US Dollars 5billion (over 12tril/-) have been used to support the country’s AIDS operations as well as strengthening different health systems.

Meanwhile, Zanzibar managed to maintain HIV prevalence at below one per cent in the past decade, concerted efforts with community commitment is still required to achieve ‘Zero’ rate target.

“Our unity involving all groups of people along with increased public awareness is still needed as far as curbing the disease is concerned,” the Deputy Minister in the Second Vice President’s Office Mihayo Juma Nhunga said yesterday in South Pemba region where the World AIDS Day 2019 was observed at national level.

“We have already beaten the first two 90s target, and still struggling to achieve the third 90,” said Mr Nhunga adding; “We are happy that 93 per cent of 6,991 people diagnosed know their status; and 98 per cent of 6,371 of the HIV+ were using ARV.

But only 83 per cent of them had achieved viral suppression by September this year.”

The Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC) board chairperson Dr Salhia Muhsin and Dr George Loy from the UN organisations also said that collaboration among stakeholders remain vital in controlling the spread of HIV and to achieve the global goal by 2030.

According to the ‘Tanzania Health Impact Survey 2016/17’ Zanzibar’s prevalence average rate is at 0.4 per cent with Unguja Island leading with 0.5 per cent and Pemba Island 0.2 per cent.

On every December 01, the WHO and UNAIDS salute the achievements of activists and communities in the struggle against HIV, while the world remembers and honours all those whom we have lost along the way due to the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that communities are a unique force behind the success of the HIV response, and that of 37.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018, 79 per cent received testing, 62 per cent received treatment, and 53 per cent had achieved suppression of the HIV virus with reduced risk of infecting others.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Communities make the difference,” and the Minister stressed the need for collective actions involving family members, adults, women, youths, development partners and other stakeholders to achieve the global 90-90-90 targets by next year.

Seasoned politician, Ambassador Job Lusinde, who also formed ...

Author: PIUS RUGONZIBWA in Mwanza

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