Zimbabwe’s Aids levy charms countries

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HEALTH minister David Parirenyatwa has said Zimbabwe’s National Aids Trust Fund has registered resounding success in the fight against HIV and Aids, with many neighbouring countries sending representatives to take notes on how the programme operates.

BY TINOTENDA MUNYUKWI

Speaking during a visit by former UNAids director, Peter Piot in Harare last week, Parirenyatwa said although the levy attracted several critics, ultimately it had registered success to the extent of attracting admiration from several countries across the world.

“Zimbabwe has done extremely well, I must say in fighting HIV besides starting the Aids levy, which is now world renowned.

It has got its own critics, but most people applaud it that it is a good practice, where people of this country contribute 3% of their taxable income towards the levy and it has sustained us,” he said.

“Now, we have got a lot of countries coming to this country to just study that [Aids levy], but also, we had a very sharp decline in HIV.

Now, as we speak, we have got about 1,2 million people who are on ART [antiretroviral therapy] and that is very significant out of a possible 1,4 million.”

The Aids levy, introduced in 1999, and administered by the National Aids Council, helps the country not to solely rely on donor funding in its fight against the pandemic.

“Sometimes donors or partners will say: ‘what is the country doing and what contribution is it making?’ and then we say well we have got this [Aids levy] and that leverages a lot of donor funding and enthusiasm,” Parirenyatwa said.

With official figures from the latest national census showing that only 11% of the national workforce is employed in the formal sector, it, therefore, follows that the Aids levy, which is 3% of this cluster’s taxable income, remains suppressed, with the bigger fraction of HIV and Aids funding still coming from donors.