The Herald (Harare)

15 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Kanyemba HIV Patients Shun Local Clinic

People living positive with HIV along the Zambezi Valley are angry with their local health authority over access to drugs. The residents in Kanyemba in Mbire district get their drugs from neighbouring Zambia.

Although health officials say Chapoto Clinic in Kanyemba is capable of starting people on antiretroviral drugs beneficiaries insist on going to Luanga Clinic in Zambia citing better services.

Kanyemba has Chikunda people and a minority Doma community.

Authorities have since approached their Zambian counterparts to stop giving ARVs to HIV-positive people from Zimbabwe.

This is expected to promote use of local services.

National Aids Council District Aids Co-ordinator for Mbire Mr Claudius Musandaira said the exact number of people getting treatment from Zambia was not known.

He, however, said 16 people from a community of about 4 300 people are accessing ARVs at Chapoto Clinic.

Statistics show that one in every four people are living with HIV though it is not everyone requiring ARVs.

Mr Musandaira said 10 of these people were transferred from Zambia.

"We want them to stop getting drugs from Zambia because we are now able to provide them at our local clinic.

"We will continue educating them on the importance of getting drugs locally instead of crossing over to Zambia," he said.

However, one person who receives drugs from Zambia said they are not sure of receiving competent service from Chapoto Clinic.

The patient who lives a stone's throw away from Chapoto Clinic said he will continue sailing across the Zambezi River to access drugs in Zambia.

"Here, the reception is very bad, some of the nurses have an attitude towards patients, drugs are limited and the doctor comes on specific dates.

"There is also no laboratory, all tests except the HIV test are done in Guruve and they take time to be returned but in Luanga everything is done on site," said the patient.

He said even though the distance to a referral hospital from Luanga is as good as going to Harare, they still prefer going to Zambia than going to Guruve because of the good road.

But a primary care nurse manning Chapoto Clinic, Mr Patric Kahuswa, said crossing to Zambia is risky for them for they might be attacked by animals.

He said although some people have accepted to transfer to Chapoto from Luanga still many people continue to shun local services.

"We test them here, but they do not come back for treatment. Once they know they are HIV positive, they quickly cross to Zambia for treatment," Mr Kahuswa said.

He said about 80 people have since tested positive for HIV at the clinic with many cases deserving to immediately commence of ART.

Mr Musandaira said people in Kanyemba are at high risk of contracting HIV compared to people elsewhere in the district because there is a lot of human traffic at the border.

"There is a lot of human traffic at this border with many people coming from Zambia and Mozambique. Sometimes people coming from Tanzania also use this border," he said.

He said with such a scenario cases of sexual favours as payment for services cannot be dismissed.

He appealed for increased resources in the community saying there were very few non-governmental organisations working in the area.

He, however, said the minority Doma people need prevention interventions because HIV prevalence among them is still minimal.

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