SMALL DIS­TRICT BIG IN HIV

Umz­ing­wane in­fec­tion rates puz­zle health min­is­ter

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Pamela Shumba

THE Min­istry of Health and Child Care has been baf­fled by re­cent sta­tis­tics show­ing that Umz­ing­wane Dis­trict in Mata­bele­land South prov­ince has the high­est HIV and STI rates in the coun­try, forc­ing authorities to con­duct a study to end the mys­tery.

Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr David Parireny­atwa said such high rates are ex­pected in bor­der towns, and they have no an­swer for the lat­est de­vel­op­ment.

The Min­is­ter also ex­pressed con­cern over the high num­ber of women test­ing pos­i­tive for cer­vi­cal cancer at Fi­l­abusi Dis­trict Hospi­tal, 21 per­cent com­pared to an av­er­age of 10 per­cent in other dis­tricts.

Dr Parireny­atwa last week toured Fi­l­abusi and Esigo­dini Dis­trict Hos­pi­tals and said it was wor­ry­ing to record high rates of HIV, STIs in dis­tricts that are not along the coun­try’s bor­ders.

“Umz­ing­wane is one of the small­est dis­tricts in the coun­try but has the high­est STI and HIV rate. The dis­trict’s TB rate is also the high­est in the coun­try. It’s wor­ry­ing and we want to know why it’s hap­pen­ing be­cause the dis­trict is in the mid­dle of nowhere, not in a bor­der town.

“We there­fore want to con­duct a study that will un­earth the rea­sons why this dis­trict is se­ri­ously af­fected by HIV and STIs. We will then map the way for­ward once the re­sults are out,” said Dr Parireny­atwa.

He said the Min­istry had iden­ti­fied the main groups: young peo­ple be­tween the ages of 16 and 25 where there is a 21 per­cent preva­lence rate yet the na­tional rate is at 15 per­cent; sex work­ers who recorded over 30 per­cent while the prisons have recorded 28 per­cent and long dis­tance truck driv­ers who also recorded 28 per­cent.

“How­ever, there’s also a high dis­tri­bu­tion of HIV among peo­ple in bor­der towns such as Plumtree, Beit­bridge and Vic­to­ria Falls. But for Umz­ing­wane we need to se­ri­ously find out why HIV and STIs are preva­lent,” said Dr Parireny­atwa.

He com­mended the cancer screening unit at Fi­l­abusi Dis­trict Hospi­tal but ex­pressed con­cern over the high num­ber of women who were test­ing pos­i­tive for cer­vi­cal cancer.

“The Viac unit is do­ing very well, I’m im­pressed. What wor­ried me was the num­ber of women that were test­ing pos­i­tive for cer­vi­cal cancer. The rate is at 21 per­cent while the rest of the pop­u­la­tion is at 10 per­cent. It’s wor­ry­ing. It’s im­por­tant for us to find out why this is hap­pen­ing in th­ese ar­eas,” said Dr Parireny­atwa.— @pame­lashumba1.

Dr David Parireny­atwa

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