Health

 Relief for s*x workers as Pfende Clinic opens

MARTIN MAWAYA

GWERU-Pfende Clinic, located in the leafy suburb of Harben Park, has brought a glimmer of hope to the vulnerable population in Greenvale and its surroundings who have struggled for years to access vital reproductive health services.

The area has been grappling with a high volume of commercial s*x work and artisanal mining.

Resultantly, these key populations have faced numerous barriers in accessing essential health services, having to travel long distances like WhaWha to access basic services.

Their struggle to access sexual reproductive health services has resulted in many deaths due to a lack of timely medical assistance.

However, the establishment of the state-of-the-art health institution, such as Pfende Clinic in the peri-urban settlement, has heralded a new era by providing a convenient and accessible healthcare option for the community.

Not only the sex workers and the artisanal miners will benefit, but it has also brought a ray of hope to the local farmers in the area.

According to Gweru City Council spokesperson, Vimbai Chingwaramusee, “the clinic is serving approximately 30 to 55 patients per month.”

With the former Gweru Urban constituency legislator Brian Dube, who spearheaded the conversion of a tiny clubhouse into a modern clinic, using  Constituency Development Fund (CDF), stated that “the motivation behind the construction of a clinic was to bring primary health services closer to the vulnerable communities.”

He said the satellite health center would help vulnerable groups, such as commercial s*x workers and artisanal miners, quick access to post-exposure treatment.

“The aim was to fulfill the constitutional mandate of providing primary healthcare services for all, regardless of their circumstances.

“Having health centers close to the people will help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, considering the high level of commercial sex activities, mining and farming in the area,” added Dube.

In addition, the former MP pointed out that the clinic serves as a one-stop center where communities can access all services under one roof.

Ward one Councilor Mercy Mangwanya said the health facility has become a safe haven for s*x workers, as they can now receive services without exposure to ridicule or abuse.

“We are excited as residents of Ward 1 to have a clinic in this area. This marks a new beginning for us, especially for women and sex workers who were struggling to access reproductive health services on time.

“The clinic represents a significant milestone in addressing the healthcare needs of key populations in Greenvale and the surrounding farming areas, as many residents were forced to walk long distances to WhaWha to seek medical attention,” she said.

She however, expressed concern about some commercial s*x workers who neglect their children by not taking them to the health care centers after giving birth.

Mangwanya stressed the need to engage and empower s*x workers with self-help projects so that they can improve their livelihoods.

For Tanyaradzwa Nyoni (34), who engages in commercial s*x work, the new clinic has brought a sense of relief and improved access to essential services.

“As a woman, I’m grateful because this new clinic has brought us a sigh of relief. We can easily access contraceptives and other health services closer to our businesses.

 “We were at high risk of contracting s*xually transmitted infections and HIV, but now we have a facility that provides us with counseling and lessons on Gender-Based Violence (GBV),” she said.

Another commercial s*x worker in her 20s, who acknowledged seeing up to 10 clients a day and sometimes using drugs to cope, weighed in saying “the provision and accessibility of s*xual reproductive services are expected to improve their well-being and reduce the health risks associated with sexual activities”.

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