Interviews with Zambian experts on HIV/AIDS & TB issues

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While in Lusaka, Zambia with our congressional study tour, I had a chance to speak with some of the leading community activists about issues of concern related to the treatment financing gap, their input into agreements being negotiated between the U.S. and Zambia, and the urgency of Zambia’s pending application to the Global Fund for treatment funding.  They also commented on the importance of HIV counseling and testing for couples.

On Aug. 22, I spoke with Miriam Banda, a member of the Community of Zambian Women Living with HIV/AIDS (COZWA), and Michael Gwaba, of the Community Initiative for TB, HIV/AIDS & Malaria (CITAM+). Mr. Gwaba is a global ambassador with the Here I Am Campaign, and he will soon be visiting the U.S. on a speaking tour sponsored by RESULTS. Both are living with HIV.

In this first section, both activists discuss the importance of providing counseling and testing to couples as a way of involving men.

In this second section, they discuss the large projected gap in financing required to enable some modest scale up of access to antiretroviral therapy. JSI Deliver has worked with the Zambian government to estimate a gap of $8.2 million in 2011, growing to $57.6 million in 2015. We discuss innovative ways in which Zambia could raise funds on its own to help close the gap.

We also discuss how important it is that Zambia’s application for treatment resources via Round 10 of the Global Fund be successful. They state that, despite problems the Fund has encountered in Zambia, they are confident Fund resources would reach people in need (the funds would not be channeled through the Ministry of Health but rather through the UNDP).

In this last section below, I asked these activists about how open the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program is to input from civil society. I asked about the negotiations over the PEPFAR Partnership Framework with Zambia.  They said they urged that compensation for community health workers be included in the agreement.

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