“For Lusaka to reach epidemic transition, coordination with other key players in the HIV/AIDS response particularly with the Global Fund, and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding are critical to avoid duplication of efforts while maximising available resources. Having these partners here is a demonstration of commitment to work with you and support you to achieving epidemic control even ahead of 2020.”
UNAIDS Country Director Dr Medhin Tsehaiu said this during the official opening of the Lusaka City Council (LCC) Fast Track Initiative Orientation meeting for Councillors, stakeholders and LCC management during a meeting held in Kabwe.
A total of 65 people were in attendance; 33 Councillors and 32 members of management.
Lusaka city is one of the 15 priority high burden cities that signed the Paris Declaration to fast track the HIV response and achieve the 90-90-90 targets by 2020. Other cities include Durban, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Kigali, Kinshasa, Maputo, Nairobi, Windhoek, Yaounde, Blantyre, Kampala, Kiev, Kingston and Lagos.
The Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) was among key partners invited to the meeting to share experiences on the “SURGE” campaign being implemented in Lusaka with the view of strengthening LCC knowledge and skills, build strong relationships among stakeholders and develop a shared understanding with LCC for UNAIDS/IAPAC Fast Track Initiative for Lusaka city as well as help LCC appreciate the work of partners in fostering the Fast Track Initiative in the city of Lusaka.
According to UNAIDS 2014, more than half of the world’s population live in cities and that cities accounting for large proportions of the national HIV burdens with the risk of transmission often higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.
The 2016 Zambia Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZAMPHIA) findings, show that Lusaka Province is second highest in the country with HIV prevalence of 15.7% after Western Province with 15.9%.
Dr Tsehaiu added, “in order to address this, UNAIDS in collaboration with partners, governments, donors, civil societies and communities developed the Fast Track strategy and the 90-90-90 targets to guide countries to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 using the location and population approach. UNAIDS launched the Global Fast Track Cities Initiative in 2014 in Paris, France with mayors from across the world signing the Paris Declaration on cities committing to accelerate and scale up of local HIV responses and supporting activities to attain 90-90-90 targets. The 90-90-90 targets are aimed at achieving the following high impact interventions by 2020; 90 percent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 percent of people who know their status receive status receive anti-retroviral treatment and 90 percent of people on treatment becoming virally suppressed”.
And Lusaka Deputy Mayor Chilando Chitangala said “Lusaka City Council has a mandate to coordinate HIV activities in the city. We, as Lusaka Councillors must remain committed to ensuring that there is strengthened coordination of HIV/AIDS programmes at district and ward levels. We also commit to working with various stakeholders that are contributing to ending AIDS by 2030 through strengthening coordination in the HIV/AIDS response. Fast tracking HIV/AIDS response requires hard work and commitment and also requires us to understand the HIV epidemic in our city and in our wards so that we can participate in developing effective strategies that work.”
In sharing the CIDRZ ‘SURGE’ campaign experience, CIDRZ Lusaka District Clinical Mentor, Justin Musonda said, “the Surge campaign launched on World AIDS Day on December 11, 2017 by the Republican President His Excellence E.C. Lungu is a strategy for the Ministry of Health and the PEPFAR team in Zambia to achieve HIV epidemic control in Lusaka Province (25% of HIV burden) over 12 months. This is an accelerate response towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90- targets and use the information learned from achieving epidemic control in Lusaka Province to assure achieving 90-90-90 targets efficiently in Zambia by or before December 2020.”
He said CIDRZ introduced strategies such as Index testing of family and other sexual partners (Partner Notification Services); different linkage strategies tailored for health facilities and communities; scale up of provider initiated testing and counseling (PITC) in service entry points; HIV self-testing to reach adolescents, men, and key populations; and venue and workplace HIV testing to increase targeted case identification.
“Other services include decentralization of ART services, expansion of differentiated service delivery, scale up of viral load testing and supply chain management,” Mr. Musonda said.