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Access to health facilities remains a mirage

CHIMANIMANI EAST — Villagers in Doldridge Estates are appealing to the government to establish clinics in their area, as the nearest health centre is over 20 km away.


The roads in the area — at the border of Chimanimani East and Chipinge Central constituencies — are also in a poor state, forcing most public transporters to shun the route.

Those that are still servicing the area charge high fares, because of lack of competition and this has discouraged some villagers from seeking medication.

Transporters charge between US$3 and US$5 for a single trip to the nearest hospital in Chipinge, which is 22 km away.

Villagers who spoke to Standardcommunity last week said their plea to the local political leadership to have a clinic closer seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

One of the villagers, Grace Mukamba (32), said she has to sell buckets of maize or livestock to raise transport and consultation fees each time she needed to visit a health centre for medical assistance.

“We have no choice but to sell our maize to raise transport fees to get to the hospital. As if that’s not enough, I am supposed to raise the consultation fee and money for drugs,” said Mukamba. “This is far beyond our reach, because we are poor and we can’t raise such amounts. What we need is just a clinic closer to home.”

Women, children and those initiated on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) are the worst affected, as they cannot walk such long distances.
“The situation is very difficult for us as women because we need to care for the sick, as well as take them for treatment at a hospital,” said one of the villagers who requested anonymity.

“Our political leadership promised us a clinic when they were voted into office, but they just come and go without fulfilling their pledge.”

A clinic project, which was initiated by former Chipinge Central MP, Alice Chitima suffered a stillbirth due to financial constraints.
However, touched by the plight of the villagers, a local timber producer — Wattle Company — recently donated building material, enough to construct a clinic and staff houses at Makondo village in Doldridge.

The material included door and window frames, timber, cement and doors.

Under the deal, villagers would be expected to provide labour for construction and moulding of bricks.

Wattle Company executive director, Joseph Musemwa said the company took pride in supporting the community that kept it going.

“We have been involved in the construction of roads, but we also discovered that health was a critical sector that should not be left out,” said Musemwa.

He said the establishment of a clinic in Doldridge community would also benefit the company’s employees who work in the surrounding timber plantations.

Former Chimanimani East MP and deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Investments Promotion, Samuel Undenge said the donation would help improve health delivery service in the area.

“I am happy that this company has come to the rescue of the people here. The centre [clinic] will improve the health delivery system in the area,” he said.

The absence of clinics in some rural areas in Zimbabwe forces people to seek medication from prophets and traditional healers.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe has two doctors per every 10 000 patients and seven nurses per every 10 000 patients.


Some pregnant women opt to rent or stay with relatives in Chipinge town just before going to labour, as they could not risk giving birth at home under unhygienic conditions.

Chipo Sithole (48), said some patients were too old and could notwalk long distances.

“People should not die because there is no clinic. It must be the will of God. We are poor and we are forced to sell our food and livestock because we need to access medical facilities,” said Sithole.

Beauty Mhlanga also urged government to come to their rescue.
“Even the poor should also have access to proper medical facilities and care. We cannot travel to Chipinge district hospital to get treatment for simple ailments, such as colds and headache, “she said.
“We need help from our government.”

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