Blessings Mashaya 9 May 2017
HARARE – Government must provide food to university students to stem HIV
spread, as most are forced into prostitution due to hardships, Senate has
In a report on HIV and Aids prevalence in Zimbabwe’s higher learning
institutions, the Senate thematic committee said poverty was the major
crisis among university and college students.
“The committee was horror-struck that a generation was being lost and that
it made no sense to train people who would serve for a year or two, then
“However, the committee was impressed by efforts made by Seke Teachers’
College to ensure that all underprivileged students who were taking
medication for any chronic illness received at least one free meal per
day,” the report said.
The committee called for the reintroduction of students’ grants at a time
higher education is seen as key to financial security and tuition and
living expenses are rising astronomically, making it all the more tempting
for students to cut corners on food.
“At Mkoba Teachers’ College, the officials’ biggest concern was that most
students cannot afford food and the college cannot afford to give them
free meals. HIV-positive students from underprivileged families on ART
cannot take their medication on empty stomachs.
“It was heart-rending for committee members to listen to tales of how some
students survive on maputi (popcorn), while others only managed to exist
on one meal per day. Mkoba Teachers’ College had worked with a
non-governmental organisation to feed the underprivileged students, but
the NGO had since ceased operating.”
College officials informed the committee that they were actively seeking
partnerships with organisations which could assist to ensure students on
ART were properly fed.
“Government, through the ministry of Health and Child Care should create
one stop health centres at all universities by end of 2017 and these
should provide sexual reproductive health services as well as HIV and Aids
related health services.”
The report comes after Health minister David Parirenyatwa recently said
his ministry and development partners should look for ways “to close the
tap” of new infections.
According to National Aids Council statistics, one of the country’s
biggest universities, Midlands State University, with an enrolment of 23
000 is the major driver of the Midlands province’s high rate of HIV, with
cases of sexually transmitted infections shooting from 5 814 to 6 727 in
A projected 1,5 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe, with about
790 000 estimated to be women above the age of 15 years.