Villagers Trek Binga’s Rough Terrain for the Jab

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-standing problems of access to quality healthcare in Binga have become more illuminated.

Admire Mutale of Kaningo village, Sinampande area will not forget the death-defying moment of his life when he endured seven kilometres of the bumpy, mountainous, and winding risky road from his village to Siabuwa in the back of a donkey-drawn scotch cart after falling ill.

Binga North, an area with many villages including Sinampande, Kaningo, Nsambala and Chilamba is struggling in many life facets due to a lack of development and supporting infrastructure. The main challenge is the unavailability of sufficient health facilities, even small clinics, a situation synonymous with many Matabeleland North rural areas.

Mutale says the situation is evidence of a lack of commitment by the designated authorities to put a health facility in the area. “I don’t think a clinic with four of five nurses can cost much to construct. Moreso, as a community we can offer labour to such a development because it is for our benefit. I think the government doesn’t care much, because they have to provide us with clinics and access health facilities.”

The unavailability of health institutions in Binga is on test now more than ever, as the government is driving the vaccination programme and expecting a herd immunity of 60% of its eligible population by December. Binga villagers describe this as a mere dream unless long distances are reduced through mobile clinics or the construction of health facilities.

The government declared all 17 clinics around the district as vaccination centres including Binga District Hospital and ZRP Clinic. But, these clinics are not enough for the population of Binga and are further away from many villages.

A recent visit to Binga by The Citizen Bulletin revealed that despite the need by villagers to get the jab, the authorities are not ready to go beyond the health institutions and save people. “I want the jab, but, I cannot travel, there is no transport. I thought COVID-19 lockdowns were the best time for the government to construct infrastructures such as schools and clinics. International and regional summits have been turned to online and monies earmarked for such all trips could have been channelled to such projects to develop our country, especially the marginalised areas,” says Learnmore Munsaka.

Last month, Dr John Mangwiro, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care visited Binga District Hospital and expressed displeasure on the state of the hospital, which was under-utilising state funds resulting in poor service.

With fake news all over discouraging people to be vaccinated; in Binga rural, the journey to the clinic is stressful, resulting in many forfeiting vaccination. Poor road network worsens the situation in Binga District as roads which provide access to health facilities were damaged by rains and have not been maintained for some time. Poor roads have either affected villagers to reach clinics safely or hindered health personnel to reach out to villagers.

Honest Moyo of Chilamba is one of the villagers frustrated by what he says is ‘a lack of trained personnel’ and that only one bus plies the route from his village, in many instances people use scotch carts.

“There’s a lack of trained community health workers here, many people try home remedies to help the sick, some die on their way to the clinic. Transport has always been a problem but now it’s also banned [Due to COVID-19],” says Moyo.

Binga Rural District Council CEO Joshua Muzamba says as a council they are still pursuing their plea to have more clinics in the district in which the majority of places are rural areas.

“Many villages have no health facilities, like in Sinampande; we are pushing for the availability of resources to build a health centre there. But, generally, we want all wards to at least have one clinic,” says Muzamba.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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