ZIMBABWE – The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that Zimbabwe has approved the use of long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Speaking on the major milestone, Nyasha Sithole, of the Development Agenda for Girls and Women in Africa (DAWA) network, emphasized that accelerating HIV prevention for girls and young women requires an expansion on choices available.

I am excited and proud to know that my own country has approved the use of CAB-LA. This will contribute to our basket of HIV prevention tools that work for us as girls and women in Zimbabwe,” she further said.

According to the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health, Zimbabwe has become the first country in Africa and the third in the world to approve the WHO-recommended HIV prevention drug.

Regulators in Australia and the United States have already given their backing to use the long-acting injectable cabotegravir, and the WHO welcomed the move by Zimbabwe,” the health agency announced in a press release.

According to the statement, the regulatory approval was a crucial step as it would support Zimbabwe to design and develop programmes so that CAB-LA can be implemented, safely and effectively, for greatest impact.

Long-acting cabotegravir is a safe and highly effective HIV prevention tool, but isn’t yet available outside study settings,” said Dr Meg Doherty, Director of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes.

The WHO Zimbabwe Country Office further highlighted that the HIV prevention drug that could save millions of people especially if the beneficiaries can afford it.

The drug has renewed hopes of further reducing deaths in southern Africa and follows the WHO’s recommendation in July that CAB-LA is highly effective at reducing transmission among people at most risk of contracting HIV.

The country’s fight against HIV has seen AIDS-related deaths fall from an estimated 130,000 in 2002 to 20,000 in 2021,” the department underscored.

In addition, the regulatory approval comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s healthcare system is facing extreme difficulties amid the country’s economic crisis.

Last year it launched a strategic plan to end Aids by 2030 and has already reached a target known as 90-90-90 – 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status; 90% getting antiretroviral treatment; and 90% having the virus suppressed,” WHO further outlined.

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