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    Monday, 3 December 2018

    MSF reduces travelling distances for Mwenezi HIV/Aids patients

     Ratidzo Jagada singing together with Sovelele villagers.

    Mwenezi villagers coming from Chirinda Clinic in a 
    donkey drawn scotch cart. 

    TATENDA CHIZU

    MWENEZI – It has been a nightmare for hundreds of HIV and Aids patients in the arid district of Mwenezi in Masvingo when time to collect their ARV supplies comes.
    Patients travelled 60km every month to the nearest service centre to collect the drugs. The travels were mainly in donkey-drawn scotch carts.
    In summer this meant crossing flooded rivers or even failing to get to the supply centres because of the floods.
    For other patients it meant walking long distances to the next district, Mberengwa to get the supplies.
    More than 104 patients from Sovelele (Choverere) Ward 17 walked 60km to Chirindi clinic.
    Now these trips are a thing of the past, courtesy of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Batanai HIV and AIDS Service Organisation (BHASO) that have come up with an arrangement called Out of Facility Art Distribution (OFCAD) where patients collect drugs from a central homestead in their vicinity.
    “The monthly travels were wearisome and straining particularly to the aged. They were costly to patients as money for transport is hard to come by”, said Kumbirai Mahaso who is a field officer with BHASO.
    All the 104 patients from Choverere are now in the OFCAD program and drugs are kept at a selected homestead and a health assistant has been seconded to their group.
    The program was introduced in Choverere this last September.
    MSF counsellor educator Oniwell Nyekete said during a media tour of journalists two weeks that OFCAD was introduced to help people from Sovelele and Makugwe area who travelled long distances to the clinic.
    People in the OFCAD program collect their ARVs from Rineti Zhou’s homestead who is a health assistant.
    “We introduced the OFCAD after we identified people from Sovelele area who travelled 60km to the nearest clinic. The programme is to ensure that everyone who is on ARVs has access to them”, he said.
    Servious Gumbe, a patient on the programme said he was happy with the program as he now collects drugs from a homestead closer to their village.
    “We used to collect ARVs from Mberengwa in 2016 and we went there once every month. Sometimes we found the rivers flooded and this made our health situation risky.
    “We really want to thank MSF for this program because now it’s easy for us to collect our medication from this homestead, it reduces the distances we travel to the clinic”, said Gumbe.
    A nurse from Chirindi Clinic Ratidzo Jagada hailed the programme.
    “This is a good program as old people used to travel for more than 60km using donkeys and scotch carts. It also reduces our work load at the clinic, it allows us to control our patients and monitor them”, said Jagada.

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