Zimbabwe Fails To Meet WHO Guidelines On HIV Treatment

In Zimbabwe, one is put on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) when their CD4 count is below 200.

However, WHO released new guidelines on ART in December 2009, raising the CD4 count – a measure of immune strength – at which HIV-positive people should start ART from 200 to 350.

An official from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, who refused to be named, said Zimbabwe was far from implementing such a policy.

“Zimbabwe is far from implementing the new CD4 count policy because of the crippled health system and our economic situation,” source said.

Sources added: “We do not have capacity at the present moment to implement the new WHO guidelines which come with challenges, especially in terms of availability of resources.

“The WHO guidelines means resource requirements will increase by about 20 to 30 percent in terms of costs because it means more people will therefore qualify and will need to be put on treatment.”

Health Minister, Dr Henry Madzorera could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo has recorded an increase of about 12 percent in the number of people receiving Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) at the local authority’s clinics, a Council official said.

But HIV/Aids cumulative deaths increased by 2, 6 percent due to late commencement of ART treatment.

“There is an increase of 11, 7 percent for people on ART at our clinics. This is encouraging as it shows people are getting to know their status so that they receive treatment early,” said Director of Health Services at the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Doctor Zanele Hwalima.

Dr Hwalima said the cumulative deaths that occurred were due to late commencement of treatment.

“The increase of 2, 6 percent of cumulative deaths could be attributed to the late commencement of treatment for the patients. Nketa and Khami Road Clinics recorded the largest deaths of 375, while the total of deaths is at 1 088 for the 12 clinics,” she said.