Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- The United States Government-funded projects on the fight against HIV/AIDS in Zambia come under close scrutiny early Wednesday when Mark Dybul, the newly appointed US Global AIDS coordinator starts an inspection tour of the Southern African nation.
All together the US government has committed $149 million in 2006 to programs that fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia through the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The money is directed at Zambia's national HIV/AIDS strategic framework and national program accomplishments in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care, policy analysis, strategic information and strengthening of existing medical systems.
The US funding will also embrace the innovation which wants to retain physicians serving in rural areas by offering them attractive remuneration packages.
It will also increase focus on paediatric anti-retroviral treatment programs and expanded counselling and testing services in rural areas.
Dybul is accompanied to Zambia by USAID assistant administrator for Global Health, Kent Hill.
Early Wednesday he officially starts his visit to Zambia by going to Maina Soko military hospital in Lusaka where the US government has spent considerable amounts of money both on infrastructure repairs and medicines, including anti-retrovirals.
Christopher Wurst, US embassy public affairs officer in Lusaka, said in a statement released here Tuesday that Zambia is the first of the PEPFAR 'focus countries' that Dybul is visiting in his new role as Global AIDS Cordinator out of the 120 poor countries now being supported by the US through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
"Zambia is generally regarded among developing countries as having one of the most successful national anti-retroviral treatment (ART) programs," he said ahead of Dybul's arrival.
In 2005 Zambia was to have put on ARVs 100,000 patients, but this figure could not be reached because of the technicalities involved ahead of a patient being put on treatment.
Apart from inspecting projects funded by the US government Dybul is to meet cabinet ministers and volunteers of the US Peace Corps who through their HIV/AIDS prevention program in Zambia constitute the biggest such force ever assembled in the world to fight HIV/AIDS through a sustained prevention program.
Apart from Lusaka, Dybul's program will also take him to the Copperbelt and Livingstone in the Southern Province of Zambia.