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HIV prevention drug approved in Zimbabwe



HIV prevention drug

Zimbabwe continues to take the lead in the fight against HIV after the recent approval of an injectable form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

A jab of cabotegravir after every two months can help reduce the risk of getting HIV in sexually active women, according to clinical data from trials which have been conducted in Zimbabwe since 2018.

Zimbabwe is among six Sub-Saharan Africa countries that have been conducting the clinical trials, with over 3 000 women from the region including 800 from Zimbabwe undergoing trials.

We tracked some of the women who were part of clinical trials conducted by a team of experts from the University of Zimbabwe and its partners.

“As a young woman at risk of getting infected, I volunteered to be part of these trials, so when the community health workers were scouting in our area I said this an opportunity for me to help in the fight against HIV. I only got to know about the side effects when I read about them on the consent forms. I was a bit scared at first, but when they went through the consent forms with me I got reassured. I started taking the injection in October 2018. At the beginning I only experienced common side effects like nausea and constipation, but safety is their first priority so we got treatment, but now I am no longer experiencing any side effects,” said a participant.

“By the time I joined these trials, I remember that time I was dating an HIV positive partner, so the moment those ladies came telling us about the trials. I think it was an opportunity for me since I had an opportunity partner at that time. At first, I was afraid of the side effects. I started taking the drug in January 2018 and fortunately for me I didn’t experience any side effects,” said another.

Principal investigator from the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Nyaradzo Mgodi is excited about the ground breaking clinical research, “Cabotegravir is an anti-retro viral drug of the group what we call instis, so when we prevent or treat HIV we target many parts of the lifestyle, so the Cabotegravir targets the enzyme that we call intergrates, so Cabotegravir is an intergrate inhibitor, it prevents replication of HIV.

“This trial was conducted in 7 sub-Saharan African countries including Zimbabwe. As you know, sub Saharan Africa is the epicentre of HIV so we recruited 3 200 women of which 800 came from Zimbabwe. We were looking at preventing HIV, so when you want to prevent a disease in those who are at risk for that disease hence we worked with women who medically we felt were at risk for HIV. After following them up, we determined that Cabotegravir was 9 times as efficacious as truvadar, Truvadar is really a good drug, but this one because it’s an injectable it was highly efficacious.”

Director at the University Of Zimbabwe Clinical Research Centre, Professor Zvavahera Chirenjestressed the importance of clinical trials.

“Clinical trials are important, we cannot afford manufacturing a drug and giving it straight to human beings, so we need local data and that from other countries to make sure that the drug is safe and that the drugs work for the indication we are testing it form. For this Cabotegravir which was given intramuscular, we were testing it to make sure that it prevents HIV, more over we also wanted to make sure that it’s safe to give it so were monitoring people who are in the trials. Then we take that dossier, all the data to the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe and they look at it to make sure that it’s safe and indeed is protecting the indication that it’s going to be registered under,” he noted.

Given a choice between the daily pill, which is already in use and the Cabotegravir injection, ladies interviewed by ZBC News prefer the injection.

“People should enroll in these types of trials, yes sometimes you will be afraid that it’s a trial what if but I think it’s better,” noted one.

“I would advise ladies who have HIV positive partners, sex workers who are at risk of getting HIV to take up the drugs so that their chances of getting HIV are lesser and given a choice between the pill and injection would pick the injection because it’s not easy taking the pill everyday, I feel having one dose of the injection once every 2 months is better,” said another.

Based on World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, the Cabotegravir may be offered to people at substantial risk of HIV infection once in two months as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention approach.

Zimbabwe is the first African country and 3rd in the world after the USA and Australia to approve the drug.

Zimbabwe News

280 petition reopening of Kasenseli Gold mine




Kasenseli Gold mine

Over Two hundred and eighty people in Mwinilunga district in Northwestern province have petitioned President Hakainde Hichilema to hastily reopen Kasenseli Gold mine.

The residents have also petitioned the head of state to remove the Zambia National Service (ZNS) officers manning the mine alleging continued illegal mining activities.

Speaking after delivering the petition with 285 signatures, to Mwinilunga District Commissioner Harrison Kamuna, group representative Kafumbe Sameta said the delayed reopening of the mine has negatively affected the economy of the district.

Mr. Sameta said people in the district had hoped that the discovery and subsequent reopening of Kasenseli Gold mine would improve people’s livelihoods but unfortunately people have continued suffering as the mine remains closed.

“People in Mwinilunga have continued crying and suffering as they feel neglected at the time when there are economic hardships which have become worse,” he said.

He said following the advice from the government, people in the area proceeded to form cooperatives through which they would mine the minerals and sell to ZCCM-IH but this has not materialized leaving people in the area with unanswered questions.

Mr. Sameta added that people in the district want the operations of the mine to be given to them through cooperatives so that they can be empowered just like cooperatives from other parts of the country with gold mines.
The people of Mwinilunga want the mine to be opened as soon as possible as it will make them feel part and parcel to the new dawn government as it is happening in other parts of the country where they have gold deposits” said Mr. Sameta.

He explained that it is critical that the mine is opened as it will create employment opportunities for the many unemployed youths, attract various investments and broaden the revenue base for the local authority thereby improving service delivery.

Mr. Sameta has since appealed to President Hakainde Hichilema to consider this as a matter of urgency as people in the area have now lost hope and patience over the delays to reopen the mine.

Source: Lusakatimes

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Zimbabwe News

Zimbabwe elections 2023: What you need to know




Zimbabwe elections 2023

Zimbabwe heads to the polls in August against a backdrop of one of the world’s highest rates of inflation and accusations of an intensifying crackdown on the opposition. Long-time president Robert Mugabe was deposed in 2017 but many say that little has changed.

In the run-up to the vote, questions linger over how free and fair the ballot will be in a country that is trying to rehabilitate its image.

Short presentational grey line
When are the elections?
Zimbabweans will vote on 23 August to elect councillors, members of parliament, and a president. If there is no outright winner in the presidential contest, a run-off will be held six weeks later, on 2 October.
Who is running for president?
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has approved 11 candidates.

This is sharply down on the 23 who contested the last election, in 2018, no doubt because each candidate now has to pay $20,000 (£16,000), up from $1,000 (£800).

But the contest is likely to be between two men:

Incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, from the governing Zanu-PF party
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, from the Citizen’s Coalition for Change (CCC)
Mr Mnangagwa, 80, has led Zimbabwe since the military forced Robert Mugabe to resign in 2017, and then won a disputed election a year later. He was a long-time ally of Mugabe before the pair fell out.
Mr Chamisa, 45, came second in 2018, winning 44% of the vote. A 2020 court ruling stripped him of the leadership of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and he subsequently lost access to party assets and state funding.

He formed the CCC in 2022, remains hugely popular in urban areas and is the main face of the opposition.

Other contenders include Elisabeth Valerio, the only female candidate. She had been disqualified but successfully challenged the decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to reject her nomination papers.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC’s new leader, is on the presidential ballot, although he asked Zec to remove his name, saying the election is a “sham”.

The other candidates are:

Joseph Makamba Busha: FREEZIM Congress
Trust Tapiwa Chikohora: ZCPD
Blessing Kasiyamhuru: ZIPP
Lovemore Madhuku: NCA
Wilbert Archbald Mubaiwa: NPC
Gwinyai Henry Muzorewa: The UANC
Harry Peter Wilson: DOP
Who will win?
Zanu-PF has the advantage of incumbency, state power and access to state resources. The party, which has been in power since independence in 1980, also retains strong support in rural areas.

However with the economy in such a mess, many people, especially those in urban areas and the youth, think it is time for a change.

Rural voters normally turn out in huge numbers, unlike urban and youth voters, which could work against the opposition. The government has also refused to allow Zimbabweans living abroad to vote – which could also work against Mr Chamisa. Polling so far has predicted different results, so it is hard to use that as a guide as to who may end up president.

Furthermore, human rights activists say that in the past Zanu-PF has used various tactics to stay in power, including violence and intimidation, state-media blackouts, and negative coverage of the opposition. Zanu-PF has previously denied using dirty tricks against its opponents.

What are the main issues?
The cost-of-living crisis continues to be at the core of voters’ concerns, with the last three years having been some of the worst in a decade. In the 12 months leading up to May this year, prices rose by 86.5%, one of the highest annual inflation rates in the world.

Meanwhile, businesses are struggling to cope with crippling power outages and an unstable local currency, which lost 86% of its value between January and early June.

Allegations of corruption also remain a source of frustration, with a very low rate of prosecution. During the Covid pandemic, equipment was allegedly procured at inflated prices – the health minister was fired but then exonerated by the courts.

How do the elections work?
For members of parliament and council candidates, the election is won on a first-past-the-post basis – in other words the person who has the most votes.

In the presidential race, however, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to be declared the winner, otherwise there will be a run-off election between the top two.

When will we get the results?
By law the presidential election results must be announced within five days after voting ends.

Will they be free and fair?
Civil society groups and the opposition doubt that polls will be free or fair. They cite what they say has been a systemic crackdown on government critics.

The arrests and convictions of opposition figures and government critics has intensified over the last two years.

The electoral reforms that the opposition have demanded for years – to level the playing field, provide access to public media and remove ex-military personnel from the electoral body – have not happened.

CCC leader Mr Chamisa says more than 60 of the party’s meetings were banned, or disrupted by police during by-elections last year, prompting fears it will happen again.

As former Zimbabwean politician Jonathan Moyo put it, Zanu-PF will not “reform itself out of power”.

What happened in the last election in 2018?
This will be the second time Mr Mnangagwa and Mr Chamisa face each other.

Five years ago, the president won in the first round with 50.8% of the vote, but violence followed polling day in which six people were killed when security forces opened fire on protesters.

Observers generally commended the freedom of movement during the campaign period and relative peace on voting day, but the EU for example noted major shortcomings including state resources being misused in favour of the incumbent.

The EU said the final results as announced by the Electoral Commission contained numerous errors. Mr Chamisa’s party failed in its legal challenge to have the result overturned after arguing that the presidential and parliamentary vote tallies were off by tens of thousands.

Source: News365

In other news – Thuli Phongolo is back in business after being hacked

Thulisile Phongolo is available for booking after resolving a fraudulent issue. Some days ago, the DJ announced that people shouldn’t book her for a while as her booking detail has been hacked by someone who is trying to swindle clients.

Thuli Phongolo

My bookings phone number has been hacked. Please do not send any money to anyone or proceed with any booking. I am currently not accepting gigs until further notice. We are working on fixing this matter urgently,” she wrote. Read more

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