THERE is an outbreak of Sexually Transmitted Infections at Chingwizi holding camp in Mwenezi with over 200 cases of syphilis and gonorrhea recorded in the past three months.
This is happening at a time when Non Governmental Organisations that were educating villagers about Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV and Aids are withdrawing from the camp after they exhausted their budgets. There are over 18,000 people living at Chingwizi.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau on Tuesday at Chingwizi, Masvingo provincial HIV and Aids co-coordinator Evos Makoni said 211 STI cases were recorded at the camp since April this year.
"People at Chingwizi are falling victim to the most common types of STIs especially syphilis and gonorrhea and all the cases are being handled at the local temporary clinic. We do not know exactly why the number of cases has been increasing but we believe it is because people are idle most of the time with nothing to do at the camp such that they end up indulging in unprotected sexual activities," Makoni said.
"We also think that because the camp dwellers have stayed together in a small area for quite long (four months) they are now familiar with each other to an extent that they have developed relations which may end up being sexual," he said.
Makoni said there were enough drugs at the camp to deal with the outbreak.
"The outbreak is cutting across all ages and sexes. We do not have a particular age group or sex that is not being affected," he said.
Makoni said a series of behavioural change campaigns with their local partners have been lined up to try and reduce the scourge of STIs at the camp.
"Nac (National Aids Council) will soon roll out behavioural change campaigns together with Regai Dzive Shiri, Plan International and FACT Chiredzi. These campaigns will be targeting families and we hope this will help in a way and arrest the scourge," said Makoni.
The outbreak of STIs is also being blamed on rampant prostitution at the camp.
Some women are resorting to prostitution for survival after they were left destitute by floods in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin in March. The floods swept away their belongings.