Since the inception of AIDS response, civil society has played a significant role and continues to do so all over the world. In Zimbabwe civil society organisations are important partners in contributing to the reduction in new HIV infections as well as mobilising people towards HIV testing, treatment uptake and adherence and therefore, viral suppression.
Since 2010 HIV new HIV infections in Zimbabwe have declined by 38%. Currently, 90% of people living with HIV in Zimbabwe know their HIV status, over 95% of people who know their status are on HIV treatment and 87% of people on HIV treatment are virally suppressed. In 2017, there were 22 000 AIDS-related deaths a decrease from the peak of 130 000 in 2002/3.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have played a partnering role in the AIDS response through their advocacy and watchdog role.
However, owing to economic and political challenges, the role of CSOs has been challenged. Their access to resources and opportunities for meaningful engagement has been particularly affected and as a result umbrella CSOs are no longer sub-recipient or sub-sub recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
In order to counter this challenge, UNAIDS and United Nations Development Programme started building the capacity of CSOs in 2018 in order to strengthen their resource mobilisation efforts.
UNAIDS is providing hands-on support, by mentoring and coaching CSO platforms to strengthen representation and participation of key populations, including sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people, gay men and other men who have sex with men and prisoners under the Zimbabwe Coordination Mechanism.
On a visit to Zimbabwe from 12–14 June 2019, Shannon Hader, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, met with civil society organisations where she appreciated the ongoing efforts to revitalise and build capacity for CSOs.
“CSO capacity to lead on issues such as demand generation, adherence support, HIV prevention and social contracting is critical for HIV response, as well as their meaningful engagement in the Universal Health Coverage agenda and sustainable health services delivery,” said Ms Hader during a meeting with Zimbabwe CSOs.
During the visit, Ms Hader also met with Obadiah Moyo, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care, where she learned more about the Zimbabwe AIDS response, including its challenges and gaps. They also explored solutions, including how UNAIDS can tailor its support.
During a meeting with US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nicholis, and the PEPFAR Team, Ms Hader appreciated their support to the national HIV response and other development and humanitarian responses. She emphasised the need for sustaining the gains in both HIV treatment and CSO representation, as well as sustainable financing for not just HIV, but health in general.