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Mobile clinics for Bulawayo residents

by Staff Reporter
29 Oct 2021 at 08:28hrs | Views
BULAWAYO residents who do not have a clinic nearby are set to benefit from a fully equipped mobile clinic donated by the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to provide health services.

The mobile clinic which will be serviced, insured and fueled by AHF, will be used by council to provide HIV testing services, condom distribution, Tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) screening and cervical cancer screening, family planning services as well as maternal and child health services. Targeted areas include Cowdray Park which only has one clinic.

Public transporters who rarely have time to walk into health centres for HIV services will also be targeted as the mobile clinic will be taken to ranks. The mobile clinic is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and AHF says plans are underway to provide similar services in other provinces.

Bulawayo has the third highest HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe at 14 percent after Matabeleland South at 17, 6 percent and Matabeleland North, 14, 9 percent.

Zimbabwe's HIV prevalence rate stands at 12, 9 and remains one of the highest in Africa.

Speaking after receiving the mobile clinic yesterday, Bulawayo director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda said the clinic will help council reach communities that are located more than five kilometres from the nearest clinic.

Dr Edwin Sibanda "We are grateful for this gesture and now residents in areas like Cowdray Park will have access to HIV services without having to travel like in the past. The situation made it difficult for us to test as many people as desired and ensure that they access medication," said Dr Sibanda.

"This is one of the donations which is very relevant to Bulawayo and it will also help us roll out Covid-19 vaccines so that everyone is catered for. We are grateful to AHF and hope this partnership will help us continue offering quality health care services to the people of Bulawayo."

AHF country programme manager Dr Ernest Chikwati said in the past the organisation conducted outreach programmes and established that a number of people willing to test and access HIV services were deterred by the distance to the nearest health centre.

"We realised that when we were doing testing during outreaches the demand was there but people were restricted because there were no nearby clinics. As opposed to outreach which is minimised, this mobile clinic offers a lot of services, the CD4 count and other services in our HIV programming," said Dr Chikwati.

"For us this is the first of its kind even in Africa and we hope more of this will be done in other parts of the country as well." He said there was a need for residents to continue accessing HIV services during the Covid-19 pandemic which has slowed down the roll out of some services.

A local HIV activist Ms Merlyn Sibanda said the mobile clinic will help hard to reach communities in Bulawayo access HIV services.

"As we continue advocating for easy access to service, we realised that there are some people who are failing to test for HIV or access counselling because clinics are far. Others are still shy to walk into a clinic and test because of stigma but this mobile clinic will address this challenge," said Ms Sibanda.

"We are happy to know that even some of us living with HIV can access CD4 count services so that we continue monitoring our progress in suppressing the virus. This win is for all of us because the more we test and initiate people on ART, the higher our chances of ending Aids in 2030," she said.

Miss Juliet Moyo from Cowdray Park said the mobile bus will bring HIV services closer to the community as they walk 10 km to the nearest clinic.

"We stay at a community known as Esigodweni in Cowdray Park which continues to develop and as young people we struggle to access condoms, HIV testing and counselling services especially during the lockdown," she said.

"We are happy that we will have the services nearer and it will discourage us to test for HIV and other killer diseases like TB and cancer so that we lead healthier lives."

Source - Chronicle