Hundreds of artisanal miners and sex workers at Doxy Ford (Jumbo mine) in Mazowe district Mashonaland Central province have pleaded with health service providers to come to their rescue and treat them for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The two groups have also raised concerns over the scarcity of medicines to treat ordinary STIs like genital warts, which are prevalent in the mining compound.
“After paying the required consultation fee of US$20, you are told to go to the pharmacy to look for medication. The local pharmacies are demanding US$15 per injection and you are supposed to have five,” Clifford Moyo told NewZimbabwe.com.
“Why should we pay the fee at the local clinic when they cannot provide the medication or services. Most people are dying in silence as they cannot afford the required US$90 at a private hospital.”
Another artisanal miner Misheck Mlambo said it has become pointless for service providers to continue providing condoms because the contraceptive is hardly being used.
“We need to be treated of STIs, tanzwa mukoma, (we are suffering),” he said.
“Most of us here spend so much time underground in search of gold. When we come out, we will be craving for sex and beer. After taking one or two beers, we end up engaging in unprotected sex and the hunger sometimes causes the poor condoms to burst.”
However, the “burst condom” theory was dismissed by one sex worker, Marjory who said artisanal miners demand unprotected sex and pay in United States dollars.
“One of the challenge is most artisanal miners do not want to use condoms, they prefer to pay US$10 for a quickie, knowing very well that the girls are suffering from STIs.
“We need behavioural change amongst ourselves. Most women here within Jumbo Mine suffer from genital warts,” said Marjory.
Jumbo Mine has thousands of artisanal miners panning for gold and besides entertaining themselves through sex, there is nothing else for them to do.
According to the National Aids Council (NAC), Mazowe district has the highest prevalence of STIs in Mashonaland Central province with other hot spots being Mazowe Flowers, Forester Estates, Caesar Mine, Bare, Nzvimbo and Hermiston farm.