Remarks by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Young
Launch of Zambia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment 2021 Survey
Ministry of Health, Lusaka, Zambia
May 20, 2021
(as prepared for delivery)
Dr. Kennedy Malama, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health
Dr. Robert Sheneberger, University of Maryland Country Director
Dr. Connie Osbourne, National AIDS Council Director
Good afternoon! I am delighted to be here with all of you as we launch the Zambia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZAMPHIA) survey. This effort in support of the Ministry of Health is yet another example of the commitment of the United States government to partnering with the government and people of Zambia to make improvements in health.
ZAMPHIA is a nationally representative, population-based HIV impact assessment survey that measures the burden of HIV and the impact of Zambia’s HIV prevention, care, and treatment services. The results from the survey will benchmark progress towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets of ensuring that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people who know their status are accessing treatment, and 90 percent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads across all ages, sexes, and at-risk groups.
This is the second time a Population-based HIV Impact Assessments survey has been conducted in Zambia. The first ZAMPHIA was completed in 2016, and it showed that Zambia had already made huge progress towards the 90-90-90 goal. It showed that about 70 percent of people living with HIV knew their HIV status, that 87 percent of those who knew their status were on treatment, and 89 percent of those who were on treatment had their virus controlled. But it also showed that we there was a lot of work yet to be done.
And over the last five years, local and international HIV partners have worked collectivity to address these gaps. They have worked hard to help Zambians know their HIV status, get diagnosed and started on treatment. They have improved access to viral load testing so that every Zambian living with HIV can get their viral load checked routinely, and we have increased awareness of the importance of being virally suppressed.
ZAMPHIA 2021 will tell us how we have done. Did we meet the 90-90-90 targets for HIV epidemic control in Zambia, and in every province of Zambia? Are we turning the corner on HIV in Zambia? Well, to answer these questions, we need people to participate in the survey. If everyone participates, we will know the answers before the end of this year. The results from this survey will also help to improve programs and direct resources towards populations that still have large unmet needs for HIV services. This will ensure that we have sustained control of the HIV epidemic.
The U.S. government has provided substantial resources for this survey, amounting to over 12 million dollars, but it is truly a team effort In addition to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with funding from President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we are partnering with the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZAMSTATS), the University of Zambia, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and other international partners to support the Ministry of Health in completing this survey.
I would like to thank all our partners for their support. And I would like to thank everyone in the audience today who will participate in this survey. Data collected by ZAMPHIA will enable us to fully understand the HIV and AIDS landscape in Zambia.
Finally, I am keenly aware that the survey is being undertaken while we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that Zambia has already rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program to prevent severe disease. I am happy that over 100,000 people have already received their first dose of the vaccine. I urge more people to take any available COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization to save lives. Let’s do our part and continue observing the five golden rules: practicing frequent hand washing and physical distancing, wearing a mask when around other people who don’t live with us, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. These interventions do work and communities that have adhered to these measures have been able to control COVID-19.
I would like to wish all those going in the field safety of travel and a successful data collection exercise.