The SADC secretariat has handed over four cross border wellness clinics to the government of Zimbabwe as the regional bloc targets to reduce HIV prevalence among long-distance truck drivers from the current 20 percent.
Most border towns across the country are synonymous with mobile population groups who include commercial sex workers and truck drivers.
The major headache for health officials has been how to ensure early detection and diagnosis of diseases such as HIV/AIDS among these special groups.
Thanks to the SADC cross border wellness initiative, the truck drivers are now able to access primary health care, including TB screening, HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and care, among other services.
Officiating at the handover ceremony of four cross border wellness clinics in Victoria Falls, SADC Secretariat Technical Advisor – Research and Monitoring, Dr Ityai Muvandi said the regional bloc is hopeful the wellness clinics will be integrated into the national health system.
The four wellness clinics are located at the country’s major ports of entry namely: Forbes in Mutare, Chirundu, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls border posts and will be utilised by sex workers, truck drivers and members of the community.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji said the government will focus not only on the continued implementation of the programme but strengthening all the facets of the initiative.
Beneficiaries applauded the SADC Secretariat and the government for the initiative which they said will go a long way in improving the wellness of truck drivers and sex workers.
The overall objective of the programme is to reduce HIV prevalence and morbidity among long distance drivers, sex workers and communities around border towns.
Since April 2015 a total of 10825 men and women have been tested for HIV under the initiative.
Chirundu and Beitbridge wellness clinics have already started HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, with a total of 207 people now on lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).