Zambia: First lady launches, dedicates Army AIDS center

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Over 300 guests, hospital staff and local residents recently witnessed the dedication of The Salvation Army’s Muka Buumi AIDS clinic in Chikankata, Zambia. Agencies partnering to establish the new AIDS healthcare center were AIDS Healthcare Foundation Global Immunity (AHF-GI), Salvation Army Chikankata Health Services, Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), Mazabuka District Health Management Board and the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ).

The clinic will provide life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to the hard-hit African country.
Mrs. Maureen Mwanawasa, the first lady of Zambia, officially launched and dedicated The Salvation Army-AIDS Healthcare Foundation-Global Immunity Muka Buumi (“Mother Of Life” in Tonga) ART clinic at the Chikankata Hospital in the Mazabuka District, about two hours southwest of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. She thanked the collaborators for joining hands with the Zambian government to provide ART services to the poor, indicating that the Muka Buumi clinic represents a source of inspiration for the country and contributes to the government’s plan to provide ARVs to 100,000 people by the end of 2005.

“Our success will be achieved through commitment to strategic channeling of energies, resources, and leadership that exhibit enthusiasm and hope,” said Mwanawasa.

The Honorable Kapembwa Simbao, deputy minister of health, and Colonel Vinece Chigariro, territorial commander in Zambia, accompanied Mwanawasa.

Representatives of the collaborating agencies spoke, including Elvis Simamvwa, executive director of The Salvation Army Chikankata Health Services and Claire Boswell of SAWSO. Among the guests were numerous dignitaries from the area.

“The Salvation Army Chikankata Hospital was one of the first institutions in Africa to recognize and respond to the AIDS epidemic,” said Simamvwa. “In 1987, we began to offer care to people who were dying of HIV disease and support for their families. Today, we begin providing the care that will bring life. This is indeed an honor.”

Two clients of the Muka Buumi clinic gave powerful testimonials, sharing their personal journey from being tested, learning they were HIV-positive, to seeking counseling/psychosocial support and receiving ART services.

Goals for the Muka Buumi project are to treat and manage 1,000 clients on ART, to establish a training center at Chikankata Health Services for medical and HIV community health workers across Zambia, and to implement a large-scale HIV Community Health Workers program to expand ART services.

“The combination of commitment and expertise in clinical, public health and management skills that are essential for successful HIV treatment programs are brought together by this exciting new partnership,” said Michael Weinstein, the president of AHF. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership in the fight against AIDS in Zambia.

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