UNAIDS - 21 February 2012
An additional 70 000 Zimbabweans living with HIV will get access
to anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment by the end of 2012, using the
country's National AIDS Trust Fund. This announcement by the
Zimbabwe National AIDS Council is a welcome sign for a country
that has some 1.2 million adults and children living with HIV in
The trust fund, also known as the AIDS Levy, was introduced in
1999 and became effective in January 2000. Resources for the fund
are collected through a Parliament special tax act, which
requires formal employers and their employees in Zimbabwe to
contribute 3 per cent of their income.
Conceived in response to the HIV epidemic in the country and
limited government funding, the trust fund has begun to show a
unique and substantive result in provision of antiretroviral
"We are pleased to have this innovative fund that does not exist
anywhere else in the region. It is a major player in the national
AIDS response," noted Dr. Tapuwa Magure, Chief Executive Officer
of the National AIDS Council.
The AIDS Levy is considered a resourceful approach to ensure
sustainability and reducing aid dependency in the national
response to HIV. "We are excited that other low income countries
such as Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia are asking us how we are
mobilizing resources through the fund," said Dr. Magure. "It has
been listed on the SADC's best practice list!"
In 2011, the government collected US$26 million through the trust
fund and this figure is expected to rise to US$30 million at the
end of the current fiscal year. With the shift from using the
Zimbabwe dollar to the US dollar, the fund started to show
dramatic increases in 2009, generating US$5 million that year and
US$20 million in 2010.
"These figures are a small but important contribution by the
government and the tax payers to bridge the gap," said Hon. Dr.
Henry Madzorera, Minister of Health and Child Welfare.
According to the Minister Madzorera, half of the funds collected
will be used to procure antiretroviral drugs while the other half
will be spent to support other HIV-related activities, including
prevention, coordination as well as communication and advocacy.
The government expects the trust fund to grow as the economy
recovers and more formal jobs are created in Zimbabwe. In the
meantime, it is vital for international partners, including the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to keep
their commitments to sustain Zimbabwe's treatment programme.
"What we are raising from tax is a far cry from what we require
to reach all of our people with treatment, which means we need
significant support for the next five years," added the Hon.
Despite a very high inflation rate and the decreasing external
funding, Zimbabwe continues to make encouraging progress in
providing access to ARVs for people living with HIV, including
pregnant mothers. By the end of 2010, more than 325 000 people--
about 59 per cent of those eligible--were receiving HIV treatment,
up from only 24 500, or 7 %, in 2005.
"The National AIDS Trust Fund has been created and grown by the
people of Zimbabwe to become one of the major funders of the
national response," said Ms. Tatiana Shoumilina, UNAIDS Country
Coordinator for Zimbabwe. "It is an ultimate symbol of national
ownership and a sustainable road towards achieving Zero new HIV
infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths."
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