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ARV access points distant-patients

Care givers who spoke to Health&Fitness said many patients were dying prematurely because they cannot reach health centres where the life-prolonging drugs are given.

Marange, despite the vast diamond deposits discovered in the Chiadzwa area recently, is still poverty stricken and health centres are far in between.

Thokozani Mukwekwezeke, a home-based care worker under Red Cross in Kadzura village appealed to the authorities to bring ARVs to Zvipiripiri Clinic, which she said was closer to the people who need them.

“People from this area have to travel more than 5km to access ARVs,” she said. 

“Many of them are dying because some will be critically ill and will not have anyone to collect the medication on their behalf.

“Something needs to be done as early as possible because we are losing six to eight patients unnecessarily on a monthly basis.”

Thirty-seven-year-old Tracy Mambo who lost her husband to Aids two months ago and is four months pregnant said she was no longer taking her medication regularly because she cannot travel long distances to the nearest hospital.

“My husband used to collect the medication for me and I am now forced to skip some of the months, which is a danger to my health and that of my unborn child,” she said.

“My health is deteriorating and I am appealing to the responsible authorities to come up with a better plan for the sake of our survival.”

Tapiwa Magure, the National Aids Council CEO said the rolling out of ARVs to the country’s remote areas was affected by lack of trained health workers and financial resources.

“Where ARVs are distributed there is need for a doctor, qualified nurses, a laboratory technician and a pharmacist but we do not have enough of these people,” he said.

“Some health institutions especially in the rural areas do not have enough security and proper storage facilities for the medication.

“At the end of the day it becomes difficult for every health institution to have ARVs.”

Magure said to alleviate the problem doctors regularly embarked on outreach programmes where they dispensed ARVs.

Owen Mugurungi, the director of the Aids and TB programme in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare said government was aware of the problem and was working on a strategy to reach out to all remote areas.

“We know that the ARVs sites we have in the country are not enough for our people,” he said.

“We are in the process of improving the situation, more nurses are being trained on the handling of drugs and we are expanding our outreach programmes so that every corner of Zimbabwe can be reached.” Zimbabwe has over 300 sites that dispense ARVs, which are mostly in urban areas.

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