By Michael Gwarisa recently in Guruve
THE number of home deliveries by pregnant mothers has largely dropped over the past few years owing to the extensive roll out of Health Centre Committees (HCCs) around the country.
The initiative which is being spearheaded by Save the Children Zimbabwe in collaboration with its funding partners DFID and EC through a program dubbed “Strengthening Community Participation In Health,” has seen at least 21 districts around the country’s 10 provinces benefiting as witnessed by the massive increase in community members participation in primary health care development initiatives.
Speaking during an HCCs Exchange meeting at Ruyamuro Clinic in Guruve, Save the Children Provincial Engagement Coordinator for Mash West, Mirriam Mutandwa said the program which started in 2013 had already registered significant progress in areas of maternal health and primary health care services.
“The program Strengthening Community Participation in Health started in 2013 through a DIFD and EC funded initiative. The total number of districts we supported here add up to 21 through the aid of these donors.
“DFID injected more funding into program so that we assist 13 other districts, so as of now, we are working together with community working groups and the ministry of health. Our motive is to ensure we curb the issue of both mother and infant mortality which used to be a menace in Zimbabwe. Pregnant mothers should register early so as get treatment and attention from experts earlier. I am glad to say that the number of home birth deliveries has dropped very much since inception of this program,” said Mutandwa.
According to official statistics released by the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey(ZDHS), home deliveries stood at 34 percent between 2010/11 and dropped to 20 percent in 2015 almost at the very time the Save the Children program was gathering momentum in communities. However, experts still feel this figure is still high and needs to be slashed even further down.
The report shows that Harare and Bulawayo had the most institutional deliveries at about 91 percent and home births were still rampart in rural and marginalised areas.
In an interview on the sidelines of the exchange program, Ruyamuro Clinic Nurse in Charge Milton Mazvanhi applauded the participation by community members in revamping of the health care center.
“Community ownership is the biggest boost to the Ruyamuro Clinic’s status as the community realised that they should take part in their own health services. We used to have one delivery per month but now we are having 76 deliveries in a month.
“We are actually transferring clients to other health centers because of shortage of space at the particular moment.We are treating this place as a private clinic or private hospital even in terms of deliveries, we are trying by all means to keep up with current trends of health delivery so that locals appreciate the services we offer,” said Mazvanhi.
Ruyamuro community has managed to build a Mothers’ Waiting room which has a carrying capacity of 25 pregnant mothers at a given time. In a given day, Ruyamuro refers not less than three to four women to other centers just because of the huge demand of their service by neighboring communities from as far as 40 km away. The center has also put up an incinerator, ablution facilities, a chicken project, Internet connection amongst a host of other services.
Meanwhile, Save the Children Zimbabwe Health Project Advisor Forster Matyatya said the exchange visit at Ruyamuro heralded the end of the Strengthening Community Participation in health project which commenced in 2013.
“The exchange meeting yesterday was part of our exit strategy to the project Strengthening Community Participation in Health. What had happened is that there was a time we had halted this project in June 2016, so we discovered that from the time we had stopped, some health center committees had hung their boots while some were no longer that effective.
“The thinking of most of these committee workers is that they think for progress to happen, they must get funding from RBF and other donors. So yesterday we wanted to show them that work can actually go on without donor intervention where they can actually do local fund-raising projects using business people in their communities,” said Matyatya.