The study "Health vulnerabilities of mobile populations and affected communities at the port of Dar es Salaam" has revealed that key populations working around the Port have a higher risk to contracting HIV and AIDS and STIs due to the complexities of sexual networks within their environment. The report was launched on the 22th September in Dar es Salaam and it is commissioned by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the South African Development Community (SADC) and the support of Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS). “We have different types of clients here, foreigners from Rwanda, Congo and Zambia and Tanzanians of both sexes. Some of them come here with their partners”, said a respondent from the study. All the truck drivers interviewed during the qualitative study had established sexual relationships with partners at truck stops whom they considered as permanent or as second wives whom they call Mapoza. The report comprises one of four studies carried out in the SADC region with the aim to contribute to the reduction of HIV incidence and impact of AIDS among migrant workers and their families, and the communities with which they interact in selected port communities in southern Africa. Migrants face serious health challenges in both disease prevention and accessing health care services. The study found evidence to indicate a concentration of disease transmission within and between populations who worked in and passed through ports. Interventions targeting commercial sex workers (CSW’s) as key populations are necessary; for instance, providing appropriate health services at night, during the weekend or by establishing mobile clinics. “The regional scale of the sexual networks due to the mobility of truck drivers and CSWs means that involvement of national and regional government agencies in revising health policies and programmes,” highlighted Dr Erick Ventura, IOM´s Regional Coordinator for Migration Health, Southern Africa. The study, which is the first of its kind to include personnel in four of the largest ports within the SADC region showed evidence to suggest that sedentary populations such as food traders, policemen and port officials who engage in commercial and transactional sexual relationships are becoming ‘high risk’ populations. “Tanzania will use the study findings as a platform for HIV and AIDS interventions for migrant populations in ports as well as associated transport corridors”, explained Dr. Jerome Kamwela, Director of monitoring and evaluation at TACAIDS. The study will also be used to inform various ongoing interventions along the Dar es Salaam Mbeya transport corridor.
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