By Babson Ndhlovu
Women in Zhombe Ward 9 under Chief Gwesela are walking long distances to access maternal services much to their risk and their infants making the Sustainable Developmental Goal on reducing mortality a pipe dream especially in the face of the harsh weather conditions, Community Voices Zimbabwe, reveals.
Some women who spoke to this publication revealed that it has been a challenge for most of them because they are forced to walk distances of five kilometers or more while those furthest walk for about twelve to fifteen kilometers.
Speaking in an interview with this reporter Sazile Mahlangu of Village Kunata, Navata said she had travelled more than eight kilometers just to come and receive medical services for her baby. This brings a total of around 16 kilometers to and from home.
“The journey to come to clinic for me is too long. When we travel coming for our children’s routine injections, we just sacrifice as women. However, I think that when we come for baby clinic services, I would suggest that at local level there should be a health personnel trained to attend to basic clinic services and a health service center/surgery that will be accessible and affordable to everyone,” she said.
Her sentiments were also echoed by Auxillia Muronda who comes from Village Head Luwa. According to her she came to the clinic with her one month old infant and had travelled more than eight kilometers to the clinic.
“When we travel this long distance, we are attended late and do spend the whole day at the clinic. Our children are still infants. Our babies are too young, fragile and extra sensitive to be exposed to harsh windy weather,” she added.
In addition, Muronda said their area is beset by challenges that include lack of water, weak economic activity and poor road infrastructure among others. She argued that exposing children to these harsh conditions has a huge bearing on their performance educationally and generally in society. Early stages of childhood plays a key role in their future abilities. This is possible only if a local clinic would be availed to them as Zhombe women.
Another woman identified as Mrs Mpofu from Mvuramachena area under village Head Tshukela said she spend the whole day on the road travelling about fifteen kilometers to and from the nearest clinic.
“We request that at least there be a clinic between Mvuramachena and Sengezi. At least that can lessen our burden of travelling long distance to access the only clinic at the ward which is Senkwasi Clinic,” she added.
Silingo Ndhlovu from Sengezi area said she had travelled more than four kilometers and the only viable solution is that there be another clinic built near their area.
“I ask the Ministry of Health to bring Health Services near us. We risk our domestic animals which we leave unattended at home. I just leave it to the Almighty. I lost my chickens to some prey because I spend a lot of time on the road to the clinic and back home with no one to look after my chickens,” she lamented.
Theresa Chiwhande who works as a Village Health Worker added that she had travelled about five kilometers from Village Njomane near Senkwasi St Paul’s School and attended women who had come for the baby clinic. However, as a woman she said she has a lot of challenges that she faces.
“The reason why l am carrying this baby on my back is because there is no one whom l can leave the baby with. I have other chores that demand my duty here as a rural woman and this affects my job. I need to look for firewood, make sure that goats and chicken have been taken care of. l am overwhelmed,” she said.
She suggested that there should be at least another clinic that can be built near Bhamala Business Center or Bhamala Secondary School because people from that area find it hard to access Senkwasi Clinic and Donjane Clinic as these seem to travel more distance compared to the others.
The leader of Village Health Workers in Ward 9 Ronica Dzino from Village Head Mukombe pleaded with the government and well-wishers to intervene and help construct another clinic so that the burden that women in Zhombe carry can be dealt with.
“On behalf of women l request that the government chip in and add more clinics at ward 9 so that women may stop travelling long distances to access health services. She also extended her call to the Civic Society Organisations to prioritize aiding the construction of more clinics because women are travelling long distances and some will end up failing to bring their children for vaccination against the child killer diseases,” she said.
Chief Gwesela confirmed what the women were talking about and added that there is really need for another clinic to end the burden of these women.
“It is true that women in ward 9 travel very long distances from their homes to the clinic. It is about 10-12kilometers so I think it is a good idea that for the ward to have new clinics that will assist the pregnant women and the kids to acquire medical and health facilities. I think a new clinic is needed,” he said.