Women from Chimwara in Lupane are appealing for mobile clinics to enable them to access primary health care. This came out during a community meeting where the women revealed that they walk for about 9km to access health care services at Fatima clinic or Gwaai clinic which is 20km away. Evidence Makhetho said lack of clinics in the area has forced most pregnant women to deliver at home, a situation that is making it difficult for them to access birth records for their children.
“As women we are facing a big problem when it comes to accessing health facilities especially for pregnant women, some women now opt for home deliveries a situation that is making it difficult for them to access birth records for the children or baby cards,” said Makhetho.
“The available two clinics that are there are very far, I am sure you saw the distance when coming here of one Fatima clinic, it’s a very long distance which makes it difficult for women to even go there to access primary care, most people are dying at home because of failure to reach clinics.”
Surrounding villages which include Chimwara, Mazwa, Gundwane, Ngondo, Jabatshaba and Manganganga all do not have clinics. She said the unavailability of public transport in the area makes it even worse for villagers to access health care.
“At times villagers won’t have any means of transport to go to Fatima Hospital. If you think of using a wheelbarrow, you just realise that an ill person won’t be able to even reach the hospital, health service is now for those with money who are able to hire transport,” said Makhetho.
She said a mobile clinic is going to assist especially pregnant women to access health care.
“We are appealing for a clinic in our area or even a mobile clinic which will be coming here so that we can get assisted. We think that is going to help us as women because we are the ones enduring a lot,” said Makhetho.
Contacted for a comment, Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munekayi Padingani confirmed that the province has a shortage of health facilities.
“As a province we don’t have enough health facilities compared to other provinces, but we have two health facilities. Normally we are supposed to have a health facility after every 10 km but it’s not the case with Matabeleland North,” said Dr Padingani.
“So what we are doing, we are doing integrated outreach, so we are going to the people, taking services to the people, that is part of the strategies we are using, the nurses go to the people, if they cannot solve your problem, they advise you to go to the nearest clinic, the problem is the clinic can be 9 km or more, so the person has to try to get to the clinic. Now currently what we do, doctors are visiting clinics four times a month to see those type of cases and if doctors can’t solve that problem they can refer the patient to the district hospital.”
He said they are currently lobbying government for more clinics to bring health services closer to the people. But to solve those issues of pregnant women we have adult waiting rooms where if you are pregnant, you are almost 35-36 weeks, you have to go to the clinic and wait there so they can attend to you until you deliver,” said Dr Padingani.
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)