City council to donate STI drugs to commercial sex workers
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BULAWAYO councillors have resolved to donate excess stocks of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) treatment drugs in council clinics to commercial sex workers.
The Zimbabwe Aids Prevention Project-University of Zimbabwe (ZAPPUZ), an organisation that has been providing drugs and advice on STIs to sex workers since 2009, reportedly requested the drugs from the council.
It has 14 mobile clinics operating along the Harare-Nyamapanda, Chirundu and Mutare highways and between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls as well as in Gwanda.
According to the latest council report, when the letter for the request was presented to councillors, they were concerned about how residents would view the donation.
â€œWhat kind of publicity will council get if we assist with the drug?â€ asked Councillor Edward Ndlovu of Ward 25.
Ward 5 Councillor Dr John Ferguson regretted the fact that national policies were failing to reduce commercial sex work, but agreed that the available drugs should be used to treat them.
The Deputy Mayor, Clr Amen Mpofu, and Clr Norman Hlabani of Ward 26 agreed with Dr Ferguson.
The Town Clerk, Mr Middleton Nyoni, explained that the donation would be a noble idea, as commercial sex workers should be supported.
Councillors then resolved that excess stocks of medicines used for the syndromic treatment of STIs donated through the primary health care package be availed to ZAPPUZ free of charge.
They also agreed that ZAPPUZ should submit monthly returns on beneficiaries and utilisation of the medicine.
ZAPPUZ is leasing a portion of councilâ€™s Khami Road Clinic to carry out its activities.
According to the report, ZAPPUZ programmes include free access of HIV counselling and testing, treatment of STIs, contraception advice, condom provision, health education and where appropriate, support for women identified as HIV positive to access treatment and care services.
â€œThe programme provides a forum for women to work together to support each other. Research shows that collectivisation of sex workers can work to dramatically reduce HIV transmission although there has been relatively little work using this approach in the African settings,â€ read the report.
The report shows that to date the programme has trained 131 peer educators who provide health education to sex workers in the community and undertakes condom distribution on behalf of the organisation.
â€œTo date we have seen 4 200 women across Zimbabwe,â€ read the report.
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