30 August 2017
ZIMBABWE and South Africa have agreed to establish clinics along major highways to cater for cross border truck drivers within the region so that they can access HIV health related services.
South Africa’ Health minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said diseases ‘know no borders’ hence it was key to strengthen health care services to fight the high disease burden in the region.
Minister Motsoaledi said this on yesterday in Victoria Falls during the signing ceremony of a five year cooperation agreement which seeks to tackle regional health challenges.
“We need to put up cross border clinics along the major highways so that cross borders like truck drivers can access HIV services. This is an HIV and AIDs cross border initiative that can help us fight HIV within the region .
“The initiative should enable truckers from the region to access health care services at any of these clinics regardless of which country they are from.
“You are aware that Zimbabwe is the gateway to the rest of Africa in terms of trucking routes so these clinics would ensure that patients get treatment, help them on issues of HIV among other issues, ” he said.
The five-year cooperation agreement which tackles issues of health, research and regulation comes after the lapse of the one that was signed in 2009.
Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe’ Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa concurred the specialised medical care such as having clinics along highways was key in the fight against HIV.
“South Africa and Zimbabwe are really interlinked in many ways so the health, research and regulation agreement will really go a long way in addressing challenges faced by the two countries and the region.
“Truck drivers are a key population that are at a greater risk of HIV infection so having clinics along highways will then ensure that services are readily available, ” he said.
Minister Mostoaledi noted that the agreement’s key priority areas were prevention, control, management of communicable diseases and conditions, regulations and access to pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
“The agreement also seeks to address issues of specialised medical care and health facilities including patients referrals, laboratory, forensic pathology and blood transfusion services. Human resources development and management also.”
Malaria and Tuberculosis are among other diseases the two countries seeks to collaborate on.
“There is no way that one country can fight malaria alone because mosquitoes do not need passports to cross from Limpopo to Beitbridge so there is need for the health departments between the two countries to collaborate.
“Tuberculosis in the mines is a problem and most mines are in South Africa but workers come from the region so we need to find a way that all patients get treatment services in South Africa if we are to end the scourge,” added the South African Health Minister.
Minister Parirenyatwa also noted that the issue of treatment, management and referral of patients between the two counties was really key especially in TB and HIV.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the ongoing World Health Organisation regional committee for Africa which is underway.
At least 40 health ministers are attending the meeting which is being chaired by Minister Parirenyatwa.