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Runyararo Clinic joins HIV fight initiative

SHANNISE DZOBO

MASVINGO – Masvingo City Council (MCC) owned Runyararo Clinic has been chosen as one of the medical facilities in the country to be involved in strategies to fight HIV with a special focus on women.

Runyararo Clinic is among the six medical centres which were selected by Pangaea Zimbabwe AIDS Trust (PZAT) under Maximizing Options to Advanced Informed Choice for HIV prevention (MOSAIC) funding to be able to offer HIV prevention strategies to women.

Other centres which were chosen to be part of the program are Beitbridge Wellness Centre, Plumtree District Hospital, Cowdry Park Clinic in Bulawayo, Ngundu Rural Health Centre and Citimed Hospital in Chitungwiza.

PZAT is a member of the MOSAIC consortium that aims to help women prevent HIV infection by accelerating the introduction and scale-up of new and emerging biomedical prevention products.

Last Thursday there was an official launch of HIV prevention strategies program which was hosted by MCC at Runyararo Clinic.

Emily Gwavava the Project Lead MOSAIC Zimbabwe in her speech said that PZAT will be working closely with JF Kapnek and OPHID to support the Ministry of Health and Child Care to conduct the study.

“The study is focused on providing additional PrEP options for women in 5 countries including Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Lesotho,” said Gwavava.

“The main reason we are focusing on women is that women in Zimbabwe remain at the greatest risk due to various biological, economic and sociocultural factors and according to ZIMPHIA 2020 report, women aged 15+ years are 3 times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts and also the risk of HIV is 2-4 times higher during pregnancy and postpartum period”.

Gwavava added that the MoHCC is currently offering one PrEP product (oral PrEP) therefore the CATALYST study will introduce 2 new  PrEP products (dapivirine vaginal ring and long-acting cabotegravir) which were all approved for use in Zimbabwe by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe(MCAZ).

The dapivirine vaginal ring is a silicone ring containing the ARV dapivirine worn continuously for one month and long-acting injectable cabotegravir is given monthly for the first 2 months and the 2-monthly thereafter.

MCC Director of Health Services, Suzanne Madamombe who was also present at the ceremony said that they are very excited to have been selected amongst other 5 medical centres to conduct the CATALYST project.

“As Council we are very excited for this project to have been brought closer so that it helps to reduce the occurrences of HIV infections towards the goal of zero new infections by 2030 in Masvingo Province and Zimbabwe at large,” said Madamombe.

MCC Housing Director, Simbarashe Mandishona, standing in for the Town Clerk, Eng Edward Mukaratirwa said that they are grateful for this initiative and choosing Runyararo Clinic speak volumes of the institution’s pedigree and trendsetter.

The study will be conducted in two stages, stage one that offers a choice between daily oral PrEP and the ring and the second stage is going to be implemented at the end of this month after the training of healthcare workers at the facilities to provide the service and manage their clients.

To ensure that the study is done in a way that is acceptable to stakeholders, implementers and influencers will be interviewed at various stages throughout the life of the study to gain valuable insights.  

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