Donor hands over HIV programme to govt

Medicines Sans Frontieres Holland, a private international humanitarian aid organisation, has handed over the Gweru HIV/AIDS project it embarked on in 2006 to the government.

The project included distribution of Anti-Retroviral Dugs and paying of nurses to conduct outreach programmes.

MSF-Holland has also been responsible for the diagnosis, care and treatment of HIV patients including Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission. TB patients have also benefited.

When the project began in January 2006, 1 489 patients were registered. By the end of 2010, this had increased to 7 150.

Audrey van der Schoot, the programme manager, said the handover of the project to the health ministry would be a gradual process.

“We had two projects in Zimbabwe - one in Gweru and the other in Epworth. We have made assessments and realised that the Health ministry can now take care of the project in Gweru. But we will carry on with the one in Epworth,” she said.

“MSF-Holland is committed to ensure a smooth transition for the patients. The handover procedure has been discussed at length with patients during consultations,” Schoot added.

Gweru District Health Officer Gedion Tsododo said it would be difficult for the ministry to cope with the situation given the fact that over 10 000 people are on Anti-Retroviral Treatment in the district. He was hopeful that the one year hand over period would be enough to come up with a new plan.