HerStory

Stories about IYWD's involvement with young women in the community

Engagement with local authorities gives birth to the construction of a clinic

Five years ago, this building used to be a community beerhall. In 2018, the building was refurbished into a clinic but abandoned until the beginning of 2020. Now the clinic is almost complete and is set to open in August 2020.

 

For thirty one year old Precious Ranjisi of Mazowe, located in Mashonaland Central Province, visiting the only district hospital in her area scares her away.

Besides grappling with the poor health care service at Concession District Hospital, she has to face the dilemma of walking a distance of three kilometers to get there. Her quandary depicts the situation that women in Mazowe face in the quest to access health care. Women who reside at a farm called Luxaflo walk for ten kilometers to access the hospital because their only mode of transportation are their own two feet.

“I walk to and from the hospital and it’s very far. The roads are bad so it is not easy to get there by taxis because the drivers will be fearing for their cars. I get so worried whenever I think of going to the hospital,” said Precious.

Women’s health necessities are unique and diverse. They need to go for antenatal care as well as access family planning services. The lack of access to health care services poses dire consequences for women including death. “Because of the long distances travelled to reach the hospital, women end up neglecting their health. Some of the health care workers take advantage of the situation, they steal drugs and come to sell and inject people at a price. The health care workers are not even qualified to inject people,” said Precious.

The debilitating state of the hospital is always shocking. It is in short of drugs and patients are instructed to get medication somewhere else. People end up resorting to buying medicine at pharmacies and the black market where prices are exorbitant. When the health system does not provide adequate and quality health care, it is an infringement on women’s rights to good health.

“After having walked for a long distance and queuing to get medical attention, they tell you that there are no drugs. The hospital is incapacitated. The health care worker who used to come to our area selling family planning pills is no longer coming so we end up buying on the black market at a very high price,” added Precious.

Being the only referral hospital in the district, it services a population of around 200 000 people and in most cases it only attends to emergencies and major ailments. When the hospital only deals with major ailments and emergencies, women who are suffering from non-communicable diseases are even at a much higher risk. According to the World Health Organization, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have been the leading cause of death among women globally for at least the past three decades and are they now responsible for two in every three deaths among women each year.

“The hospital is always packed with people in long queues. At times when I go there early in the morning, I will be served after mid-day or not at all,” said Precious.

Because of the poor road networks to reach the hospital, some pregnant women end up abandoning to go for prenatal care. Some give birth on their way to the hospital. The number of home deliveries is high. There are various and unforeseen complications that pregnant women undergo and these need quality medical attention which in this instance is close to being non-existent. The number of women who die giving birth and child mortality rates go unreported.

Institute for Young Women Development through its Harnessing young women’s voices and power for local government accountability and gender responsive social services delivery trained young women in Mazowe to actively participate in advocating for women friendly social services. The IYWD organized two online meetings for the women to meet with their local authorities to discuss issues on service provision for women in Mazowe. Among the local authority representatives was Councilor Chinyoka of Ward 15 who promised to work hard in ensuring women would get access to medical health care.

“We are building a clinic in Ward 15 and it is almost complete. After women raised alarm at the difficulties they face in accessing health services, I saw the need to create a polyclinic to ease congestion at the hospital. Surrounding farms will also be catered for. The prime purpose for the clinic is to reduce time consumed waiting for service at the hospital as they first give precedence to major ailments. Ninety nine percent of hospital admissions and ailments are women oriented and our hospital is overcrowded. Plans to build a waiting mother’s shelter are underway. I asked young women from IYWD to share with me some ideas on what they want to see at the shelter,” said Councilor Chinyoka.

“I am so happy that we now have a clinic that will help us. The clinic is almost done and it’s very near. I am so grateful to IYWD for enabling us to work together with our local authorities,” expressed Precious.

 

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