By Moses Mugugunyeki
Health centres in marginalised communities of Mashonaland East province have been hit by an acute shortage of drugs for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
National Aids Council (NAC) provincial manager for Mashonaland East province, Wilfred Dube, said one of the challenges bedevilling the HIV intervention programme were recurrences of STIs due to shortages of drugs.
Speaking on the sidelines of an HIV outreach exercise at Durlstone Farm in Macheke, Dube said farming communities were the hardest hit.
“The quality of STIs treatment is not up to scratch. Most clinics in the marginalised areas do not have adequate drugs to cure STIs,” Dube said.
“Due to drug shortages, there can be recurrences of STIs. So, the greatest challenge is STI management.”
Dube said NAC was working in partnership with the Health ministry and partners to help bring HIV services to marginalised communities, including farming
“From here, the nearest clinic is 15km away, thus at Macheke or 15 to 20km at Nhowe Mission. So, we bring services to the people and these include HIV testing
and counselling, cancer screening and voluntary male circumcision, among others,” Dube said.
He said such programmes were held twice a month.
“Apart from these HIV intervention programmes, we have programmes targeted at specific key-population groups, among them sex workers, truck drivers, artisanal
miners, adolescent girls and young women,” Dube said.
However, he said HIV infections were a cause for concern among farming communities.
“High infections are common among sex workers, but lately we have seen an increase among farming communities,” Dube said
“The problem with farming communities is that couples easily divorce. They go to the door next to theirs and remarry. They may divorce again and move to the
next farming compound. In all these marriages, they don’t use protection.”
He said night clinics had been established to cater for sex workers.
Most service centres along the Harare-Nyamapanda Highway in Mashonaland East, including Murewa Centre, Kotwa, Mutoko and Juru are classified as HIV hotspots.