Mozambique Targets Miners Returning from South Africa for HIV, TB Tests

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 19, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As thousands of Mozambican migrant workers return from South Africa for the holiday season, IOM and partner agencies at the Ressano Garcia border post are this week encouraging returnees to get tested for HIV and TB at temporary clinics to be set up in their communities of origin in early 2015.

From 5-10th January the US-based Elizabeth Glazier Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) will set up testing stations in three districts of Gaza Province, with assistance from IOM and South Africa-based TEBA Development, which has offices in southern Mozambique working with migrant mine workers.

This week the team worked at the Ressano Garcia border post from 08:30am to 06:00pm each day to encourage returning mineworkers to visit the testing stations, distributing materials, providing information and recording the details of each migrant interviewed.

These details will be compared to the actual people who utilize testing services in January. There are an estimated 1.5 million Mozambicans in South Africa; up to 60,000 are either informal or formal mine workers.

A range of factors can make migrant mineworkers particularly vulnerable to HIV and TB, and there is a high HIV prevalence in Gaza province – 25 per cent, compared to a Mozambican national average of 11 per cent.

People not knowing their HIV status remains one of the biggest drivers for the spread of both diseases. UNAIDS estimates that only 40 per cent of people living with HIV in Mozambique have been tested for the virus.

This push to increase HIV and TB testing is part of the IOM’s Pfuneka project, which is funded by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands to improve HIV prevention in migration-affected communities close to the Ressano Garcia-Komatipoort border post.