Andrew Chimedza in VICTORIA FALLS
HIV and aids remains a major challenge in the country, especially in the uniformed forces, the Commander of the Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga has said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda during the opening of the Zimbabwe Uniformed Forces (ZUF) health conference here, Gen Chiwenga said the HIV and aids scourge had wrecked havoc among communities, including the armed forces.
“During the 1990s to 2004 we saw the pandemic taking its toll, but the ZUF scored many successes in addressing the scourge through formulation of strategies such as male circumcision,” said Gen Chiwenga.
He said the uniformed forces had contributed 25 percent of the national total of men circumcised as a preventative measure.
“Allow me to state that as we all know, the HIV and aids scourge cuts into the size and quality of the work force and has become increasingly discouraging to business and economic policy makers,” said Gen Chiwenga.
“The pandemic makes the cost of doing business more expensive while at the same time lowering workers’ productivity and decreases overall demand for goods and services.”
Gen Chiwenga said HIV and aids resulted in absenteeism, a rise in child-headed households and an increase in child labour as adults become sick and eventually die.
“In the face of HIV and aids, the country is expected to lose the benefit of the money invested in training people and in the salaries and wages of workers on sick leave or away on aids-related leave,” he said.
Gen Chiwenga said there was need for massive mobilisation of society to combat the aids scourge.