GOVERNMENT plans to construct 32 hospitals and refurbish existing health infrastructure to improve access to healthcare for the majority of Zimbabweans.

This was said by Health deputy minister John Mangwiro in a speech that he read on behalf of Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga during World Aids Day commemorations in Chinhoyi yesterday. He did not give a timeline for the construction.

The commemorations were held under the theme End pandemics, End inequalities, End Aids.

Chiwenga said government was focusing on prevention, health inequalities and tackling social determinants of health.

“In strengthening the response to COVID-19, we are not negating HIV and other pandemics, including non-communicable diseases, as our theme suggests,” he said.

“The recent emergence of COVID-19 has exposed our systems and I am happy that government is prioritising the whole health delivery system for revamping, so that we can better deal with pandemics, which tend to spread faster and kill more people if the health delivery sector is weakened.

“In this regard, my ministry is spearheading the construction of 32 new hospitals, refurbishing and equipping old ones to ensure that all our people access modern healthcare services, and that all inequalities in access are shattered.”

Chiwenga said despite the COVID-19-induced disruptions to HIV service delivery in 2020, the country’s response to HIV was on the rebound.

“I am very pleased with the trajectory of new HIV infections, which shows a continued decline for all age groups over the years, from 40 900 to 24 900 between 2016 and 2020,” he said.

National Aids Council chief executive Bernard Madzima said World Aids Day commemorations were pivotal in remembering those that died of Aids and to reflect on the progress in responding to HIV. World Aids Day was first commemorated in Zimbabwe in 1988.