The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has agreed to provide drugs to the Zimbabwe Aids Prevention Project-University of Zimbabwe (ZAPP-UZ), an organisation working with commercial sex workers through its health department as the local authority moves in to assist in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
According to the local authority, the organisation which is currently leasing space at the Khami Road Clinic wrote to the city’s health department requesting support for its programmes.
“To date we have treated over 2000 STIs syndromically. In order for the programme to be sustainable in the longer term , NAC/UNFPA is keen that drugs for syndromic management are procured through the existing mechanisms established by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare rather than purchased separately by the programme,” reads part of the letter.
“To this end , we are therefore requesting your support for the programme by providing us with drugs for the treatment of sex worker clients calling at the sex workers clinic in Bulawayo and its mobile sites.”
Bulawayo mayor Cllr Thaba Moyo says, council as part of central government is playing its part in complementing existing policies in fighting HIV/AIDS. The local authority is however concerned that existing government national policies are failing to minimise commercial sex work. Ward 5 councillor John Ferguson says although government has failed to reduce sex work, council should step in to provide available medication to sex workers and their clients.
In a recent council report, ward 25 councillor Edward Ndlovu raised concern on issues related to publicity if council assisted sex workers with drugs.
The local authority last year came under fire from residents associations after it received a donation of 20 pink bins from the Sexual Rights Centre (SRC), an organisation that advances the sexual rights of marginalised groups.
BCC has since resolved, at the recommendation of the health committee, to use excess medicines used for the syndromic treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections donated through the Primary Health Care package as assistance to ZAPP-UZ free of charge.