FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Global Fund and Zambia sign $156 million grant agreement

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed a $156 million grant agreement with Zambia on Thursday to ensure a supply of antiretroviral drugs to individuals receiving HIV treatment.

The funding will also allow 225,000 more people to start treatment over the next three years. There are currently 480,000 people in Zambia enrolled on antiretroviral treatment with support from the Global Fund.

"Continued support from the Global Fund allows us to increase HIV testing and start thousands more people on treatment," Joseph Kasonde, the minister of health of Zambia, said. "It will also allow us to pursue the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to increase coverage of male circumcision."

Zambia is one of the first sub-Saharan African countries to achieve universal access to ARV treatment, which is defined as coverage for 80 percent of eligible individuals. More than 90 percent of adults needing treatment were on ARV treatment in June.

The new grant, which was signed with the U.N. Development Program, will improve the country's national supply chain and systems for assessing HIV treatment impact.

"Zambia's strong political support and the growing level of domestic financing have helped establish interventions for attaining universal access in prevention, treatment, care and support," Linden Morrison, the head of the Global Fund's High Impact Africa II Department, said. "Robust partnerships and investments will continue to yield impact."

According to a 2012 UNAIDS report, HIV prevalence in Zambia is 12.5 percent. HIV is Zambia's leading cause of death for all age groups.