2023 World AIDS Day under the theme, "Let Communities Lead".
On Friday, December 1, 2023, Zambia joined the rest of the world in commemorating this year's World AIDS Day held under the theme, "Let Communities Lead".
CIHEB Zambia was part of the commemoration event held at the Olympic Development Center (OYDC) in Lusaka, that saw the government through the minister of health Ms. Sylvia Masebo, emphasizing the need to let communities decide their health and social needs as a better response to mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS in the country. The minister said that communities have been the backbone of the HIV response at every level as their advocacy factors in the needs of communities.
"Unless communities lead, the HIV and AIDS response will continue being hampered. Our country stands to benefit, when communities are entrusted with leadership in determining the health, social and economic needs of their members," Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said during the event.
While acknowledging the importance of involving communities in the HIV and AIDS response, the minister underscored the need for community-led responses to be accorded adequate resources and support to enable communities play their vital role as equal, full-integrated partners in national systems for health and social services.
Ms. Masebo said that despite the pivotal role of communities being recognized, their participation in national health systems as leaders, partners or decision makers remains limited.
The minister further said that in attempt to address this issue, government has embarked on what is called social contracting. This is the procurement of services from Civil Society Organizations to provide HIV services to hard to reach or marginalized populations.
Speaking at the same event, CDC Africa Director General HE. Dr Jean Kaseya in a speech read for him by Dr. Lul Riek said that CDC acknowledges the strides and progress that the African continent and in particular, Zambia has made in fighting HIV/AIDS and equally underscored the important role that communities have played in these efforts. He thanked the African Union for supporting the agenda to end AIDS by 2030. UNAIDS Country Director for Zambia Tharcisse Barihuta said community involvement has helped tackle other pandemics in the world. “The involvement of communities in the HIV and AIDS response remains vital in the path to ending HIV and AIDS. This means working with communities and putting communities at the center of all efforts," he said.