Japan in cross-border project in Zambia to fight AIDS

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- The Japanese government said it was upbeat about an HIV/AIDS prevention project by TICAD III in Zambia that targets long distance truck drivers and commercial sex workers in border areas, Katsuhiro Sasaki, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) resident representative in Lusaka, said the project, undertaken by the Tokyo International Conference for Africa's Development (TICAD III), was operating at six border areas.
Two sites are at Livingstone and Chirundu on Zambia's border crossings with Zimbabwe, while one is at Kazungula on the border with Botswana.
Another site is at Katete, east of Lusaka on the road to Malawi and Nakonde on the border with Tanzania to the north.
The remaining two sites are at Kasumbalesa on the border with DR Congo in the Copperbelt region and Kapiri Mposhi which is an inland site and a very active cross road for traffic from Tanzania, DR Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Sasaki said the project was meant to increase access to, and use of condoms among high-risk groups, increased access to, and use of quality sexually transmitted infections (STIs) treatment and HIV/AIDS prevention services among high-risk groups.
It also aims at increasing knowledge about HIV prevention including condom use and early health seeking behaviours for STIs treatment and HIV/AIDS prevention among secondary target groups.
On the basis of these goals the initiative is now involved in such activities as condom social marketing, treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and behavioural change communication which involves advocacy and sensitisation of border site communities on STIs and HIV/AIDS prevention, he said.
The initiative is to benefit more than 500 sex workers out of the estimated 2,569 female sex workers operating from the six border areas and the inland site of Kapiri Mposhi.
Under the initiative, sex workers are invited to register through community mobilisations done through peer and outreach work and those with diseases are treated irrespective of whether they are from drop-in-center clinics or from the streets.
In 2002, some 2,380 truck drivers were treated for sexually transmitted infections at Zambia's borders and this, according to statistics at JICA, was 52 percent more than those treated in the previous year.
Two months ago the initiative received a shot in the arm when US ambassador to Zambia, Martin Brennan, and his Japanese counterpart, Hiroyuki Ishi, announced financial support amounting to $5,130,000.
Ambassador Ishi pledged then that his country will support Zambia in the fight against HIV/AIDS even though he wondered the African country was so highly rated at 16 percent prevalence, insisting this is too high for a country of only 10 million people.
Clement Mwale, project manager for the Cross-Border Initiative (CBI), said there had been a marked reduction in the number of infected persons among both sex workers and their truck driver clients at borders.
"We have recorded a reduction in STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) cases with just 299 commercial sex workers reporting for treatment in the last quarter, while 76 truck drivers from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya were among those who reported for treatment," said Steven Nyangu, CBI site manager in Chirundu.
South African truckers are hot favourites for the commercial sex workers as they pay well on account of their Rand being strong while the Zimbabweans are only liked for the goods they can give since their currency has lost great value in recent times.

26 سبتمبر 2003 21:30:00

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