Beitbridge, Chirundu, Forbes and Victoria Falls Wellness clinics have been operating on a trial basis for the past two years following the introduction of the Sadc Cross Border Initiative (CBI) by the regional body in partnership with North Star Alliance and the Global Fund in 2011.
Sadc is targeting to have 32 such clinics in all member states to reduce HIV and TB infections.
Speaking during the handover ceremony of the four clinics to Zimbabwe by the SADC secretariat at the Victoria Falls Wellness Clinic located at the resort town’s truck stop on Saturday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji, said over 10 000 sex workers and truck drivers have been attended to since 2015 at the wellness clinics in the country.
“The nature of jobs of truck drivers and sex workers makes early case detection a challenge. I am glad to announce that since April 2015 we have tested 10 823 men and women aged 15 and above and of these, 2 943 were long distance truck drivers while 2 354 were sex workers,” he said.
The other people who were attended to at the clinics came from the surrounding communities.
Dr Gwinji said 4 923 STI cases were also diagnosed while 207 people were initiated on anti-retroviral therapy at Beitbridge and Chirundu border posts clinics.
He challenged staff at the clinics to maintain high levels of confidentiality to fight stigma.
Dr Gwinji called for more research on key populations saying the majority of them have no time to visit hospitals.
Dr Gwinji said the HIV prevalence rate is high in sub-Saharan Africa and Zimbabwe has not been spared.
The clinics will provide testing, diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV and STIs, malaria prevention and management, TB screening and behaviour change among other services.
The Head of the Aids and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Owen Mugurungi, said the high prevalence rates are attributed to high levels of mobility and poor access to health services.
Dr Ityai Muvandi from the Sadc Secretariat said similar clinics have already been handed over to governments in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.