Stakeholders in Bindura, Mashonaland Central province met to discuss ways of increasing awareness on matters surrounding HIV, gender-based violence (GBV), drug abuse and sexual reproductive health within the district last week.
Matters concerning the rights of people living with disabilities were also part of the discussions carried out at a local hotel, convened by the Zimbabwe Association of Church-related Hospitals (ZACH).
Representatives from the Zimbabwe National Network of People living with HIV (ZNNP+) said at present the network is carrying out educational awareness campaigns to its members and the community at large.
They said the organisation was taking care of the positive while encouraging people on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) never to default even if “prophets” declare them to be healed.
According to ZNNP+, issues of defaulting were mainly amongst men and those newly initiated on the programme in the district.
“They are shy to go for collections, while others take time under the denial stage thereby giving room for the virus to multiply. A number of men who recently initiated ART in Bindura are still shy to collect their medication, forcing their partners to share their allocations. In some cases, men get the medication by force from their partners.”
“As a result, partners end up defaulting on the medication as it runs out before their next collection date,” they claimed.
HIV patients get their medication quarterly thereby increasing the risk of re-infection if the medication is shared and depletes before the next allocation.
The National AIDS Council (NAC) represented by its Bindura District AIDS Coordinator, Agrippa Karuru urged stakeholders to help sex workers access free sexual reproductive health services at Chiwaridzo Clinic every Friday courtesy of Ceshar.
He said if possible, sex workers affected with sexually transmitted diseases should also bring in their clients for screening and medication.
Representing faith-based organisations, Pastor Gama pleaded with the house to take children to church from birth.
He said as a church leader, he has seen a number of congregants absconding from church service due to the behaviour exhibited by their children after failing to reign them in early.
“Let’s take our children to church at tender ages so that they grow up righteous and away from drugs. We have of late noted some of our congregants are no longer coming for services because they feel embarrassed by their children who have become notorious for drug and substance abuse,” Gama said.
To curb the GBV menace, Maxwell Hombiro a senior Programmes Manager at ZACH said they have since appointed 50 people across the district to act as GBV champions.
Their duty is to spread the gospel against all forms of GBV in communities and enlighten victims with information about referral centres that can assist them in times of victimisation. Victims were encouraged to report all perpetrators to the authorities.
According to Lydia Hlabati, the Assistant District Development Coordinator for Bindura, the district tops Mashonaland Central as far as gender-based violence statistics are concerned. She however did not share the actual statistics. Nhau/Indaba