cde mugabe at un.jpgThe Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe says mandatory testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the most effective way of arresting the spread of the pandemic in the region.

The President was speaking to CCTV in New York on Tuesday, where he attended the United Nations Summit of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

 

He said similar measures to those instituted in past outbreaks, such as smallpox, are needed for effective intervention.

 

 

President Mugabe said this would, however, only be possible if conducted at a regional and international level with all countries carrying out compulsory testing in tandem.
 

“To tell you the truth, I am of the view that HIV and Aids, being so devastating an epidemic, governments of the region — perhaps universally — should agree that it’s not a violation of rights to subject people to medical examinations.

 

“This is as long as the results remain between the doctor and the person being tested and are not made public. This will determine who is carrying it and who is not,” said Cde Mugabe.

 

He continued: “But then you have this human rights thing that says you cannot force someone to be tested and in that regard it (compulsory testing) is not good.

 

“I don’t think that it’s a violation of human rights. If there is any justification for it, it is because it is a measure to justify stopping the spread of an epidemic.”

 

President Mugabe said at present such compulsory testing is not legal, but said the individual legislatures and governments should look into this.

 

“At the moment that’s the main inhibition on the part of government, we don’t have the courage to force testing and the law does not allow it.

 

“My feeling is that the law should be amended, but this must be done regionally and internationally.”

 

Compulsory testing is not new in Zimbabwe.

 

“Once upon a time when I was young, we had the entirety of the population vaccinated against smallpox. If it was compulsory for the smallpox, for precautions, if it was right then why is it not right now?” he asked.

 

President Mugabe added: “Essentially, it is the same; the lives, the health of people, prevention of death — death of communities in a calamitous way.”

 

In his address during the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level meeting on HIV and AIDS, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe has registered significant progress in lowering the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate.

 

“The estimated prevalence rate in adults aged 15-49 years was 23.7 percent in 2001. This dropped to 18.1 percent in 2005 and declined further to 14.3 percent in 2009.

 

“The decline was achieved despite lack of support from the international community, and at a time when even issues such as HIV and AIDS were politicized and mixed with agendas of regime change. My government greatly appreciates the assistance it is now receiving from the Global Fund and other agencies,” he said.