THE US Embassy in Zambia has signed a 2023 agreement project fund amounting to over K7 billion with the Ministry of Health for HIV control.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Thursday, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Martin Dale disclosed that the US government had since 2004 contributed over US$5.9 billion towards Zambia’s HIV response.

“I am pleased to be here with the honourable Minister in support of our common goal of HIV epidemic control in Zambia. I am also excited to announce that the level funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR Zambia, funding envelope for 2023 has been approved at over K7 billion, which includes US$1million in dedicated new funding to focus on finding children living with HIV who are not on life-saving treatment in addition to supporting HIV treatment for nearly 1.2 million Zambians living with HIV. Zambians, who thanks to this treatment, are able to live productive lives,” he said.

“Since 2004, the American people have contributed over US$5.9 billion to the national Zambia HIV response. The US government partners with Zambia’s Ministry of Health to ensure this funding is data-driven and focused on reaching the goal of HIV epidemic control. Priorities for 2023 will focus on key populations, children and adolescents, young people. The planning on the use of this funding was collaborative, participatory and included meaningful contributions and partnerships with the government of Zambia.”

Dale said although Zambia had made credible achievements in HIV prevention and treatment, it was not yet across the finish line.

“Though Zambia has made credible achievements in HIV prevention and treatment, we are not yet across the finish line. If you do not know your HIV status or if you are living with HIV and you do not know the HIV status of your children, get tested for HIV and if you are positive, know that you can live a healthy, productive life while on HIV treatment. Together we can work towards a healthy Zambia and epidemic control for all,” said Dale.

And speaking at the same event, Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said significant progress was being made towards reducing new HIV infections and reaching the unreached population.

“The UPND government led by the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr Hakainde Hichilema has a mission which is enshrined in the party’s manifesto. This mission seeks to foster national development through mobilisation and sustainable use of human natural resources for the empowerment of every Zambian. Further, this mission places the health sector at the center of the human development agenda. This includes control infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, COVID-19 and others. In this regard, the UPND government in its budget has almost doubled the funding to the health sector for the 2022 fiscal year,” she said.

“With this commitment with the support from the top leadership in the country, Zambia has seen progress in the control of HIV. More than 1.2 million Zambians are receiving the life-saving antiretroviral therapy today. Further, we are now certain that the country has achieved the UN AIDS 90-90-90 target and it is well-poised to achieve the 95-95-95 epidemic control targets. In addition, significant progress is being made towards reducing new infections and reaching the unreached population such as children, young women and adolescent girls among other key populations.”

She assured that everything possible would be done to restore confidence and trust in the way resources would be utilised.

“The government through my Ministry is committed to provide equity of access to quality health care to all our people regardless of gender, ethnicity, race and religion. This government is committed to remove any barriers to access HIV services by all populations including the marginalized individuals. None of this progress would have been made possible without the support from the US government through PEPFAR. As a country, we are more grateful that the US government has invested over US$6 billion in Zambia’s health sector to combat HIV/AIDS and TB. I myself believe that public resources must be efficiently used to reap the intended recipients. I would like to assure PEPFAR and other donors that we will do everything humanly possible to restore confidence and trust in the way resources will be utilised,” said Masebo.