AT Mutsago Business Centre under the diamond rich Chiadzwa area of Marange, there are several beer outlets and shops, but none of them have cond0ms in stock.
At Mukwada Business Centre, another rural shopping centre with about eight shops and two beer outlets where the local clinic usually supplies cond0ms, none of the business operators have cond0ms in stock.
At Mashukashuka Business Centre, the heartbeat and central location of the vast diamond mining area which is a sprawling rural shopping centre with viable beer and grocery outlets and a lively atmosphere, only one bar is left with a few cond0ms in stock.
These were last replenished more than two months ago, thanks to a Women’s Day public gathering held in the area.
This is the sad tale of Chiadzwa, where there is high se_xual activity, thereby exposing locals to Se_xually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
A commercial se_x worker who once plied her trade in the Chiadzwa area recently left the world in shock after she revealed that due to the shortage of cond0ms in Chiadzwa, she and her colleagues resort to the use of bread packs as a substitute for cond0ms.
A drive across the Chiadzwa diamond mining area last week on Friday from Bambazonke Business Centre via Mutsago, Tenda, Mashukashuka, Chipindirwi and Chingome down to Hot Springs Turn off showed that although cond0ms are available in clinics, the life-saving product was not readily available in areas where it is needed most.
A bar lady interviewed by The Manica Post at Mashukashuka Business Centre, Ms Moslyn Mauka confirmed this.
“Since I started working here, we have never had consistent supply of cond0ms. We usually get just a box delivered from the local clinic by a nurse but the deliveries are not consistent.
“As you can see, we do not have any stocks at the moment. The box she brings hardly lasts more than two days and she delivers after three to four weeks,” said Ms Mauka.
Another bar lady, Ms Styla Mtetwa, said they last received cond0ms during a Women’s Day event.
Following efforts to replenish stocks, a box opened last week on Thursday, shown to this reporter, had only about 10 cond0ms left as of Friday.
Said Ms Mtetwa: “We last received a supply of cond0ms during Women’s Day commemorations that were held here. I replenish stock when I make an effort to go to the clinic to collect them but there is no incentive for me to do that. I usually do it when I have time to.”
In 2019, the National Aids Council (NAC) moved to install cond0m dispensers in HIV and AIDS hotspots in Masvingo Province in attempts to manage new HIV infections.
The dispensers were placed in clinics, beer taverns, tertiary institutions and truck inns and other areas where there is high sexual activity.
The pilot project was initiated at Chivi Turn-off, Mpandawana and Chivi growth points as well as Masvingo Polytechnic, and the cond0ms would run out moments after dispensers were loaded with the life-saving gear.
Probably this initiative could be what areas under Chiadzwa need given the increasing cases of STIs in the area.
In his presentation during a recent media tour, Population Health Solutions (PSH) Clinical Services Coordinator, Mr Maxwell Madyauta confirmed that that there has been an increase in STI cases in Chiadzwa.
“We have seen an increase in cases of STIs in Chiadzwa ostensibly because of the influx of artisanal miners in that area. This is a recent observation which we have made. We have heard that at times they run out of cond0ms in areas of high se_xual activity so we are seized with efforts to help the situation,” said Mr Madyauta.
Investigations revealed that the misuse of cond0ms in the area could also be contributing to the shortage of the cond0ms.
“Some artisanal miners use cond0ms to cover their phones when going down water logged mining shafts. So when they come here they request for a number of them, but not really for their intended use,” said Ms Mtetwa.
Mutare District Medical Officer, Dr David Muchirewesi said cond0ms are available in Chiadzwa, but probably not in places that the target population is.
“The monthly consumption of cond0ms in Chiadzwa is around 3 500 to 6 000 and we have much more in stock in our four clinics in Chiadzwa. We actually dispatched some about two, three weeks ago.
“During that period, we also noticed that we had about 18 000 in stock at a given clinic but still supplied more. We had to move some to places with lower amounts in stock but generally we have never had a shortage of cond0ms.
“Probably the only issue is that these cond0ms are in our clinics and they are not where the target population is. They might not be right in places where people in need of them are,” he said.
However, there are widespread fears that STIs could spread like veld fires in Chiadzwa, especially the hotspot areas of Mashukashuka and Tenda.
Ms Shelter Sithole, who runs an open air second hand clothes shop at Mashukashuka Business Centre pleaded with the responsible authorities to intervene.
— Manica Post