More clinics: Right prescription to health sector

Forward Nyanyiwa Correspondent
Addressing a high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage at the 74th Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) currently underway in New York, United States of America, President Mnangagwa hinted on a massive rebuilding of the health sector in the next five years.

He said as a way to ensure that everyone has access to health services without having to walk long distances, Government seeks to construct 6 600 clinics nationwide.

“While we have made significant strides in ensuring that no one should travel more than 10km to reach a health service, some communities still have limited access to health facilities.

“My Government is, therefore, constructing health posts, clinics and hospitals in remote areas to address this challenge. A total of 6 600 health posts will be constructed over the next five years”, the President said.

The news came as sweet music to the ears of many locals, especially those who live in low lying areas of the country, who have been walking several kilometres to access health services.

After the successful agrarian reform of 2000, most families relocated to their allocated farms, and other areas to pursue better agricultural activities. Such areas, in most cases, did not have adequate infrastructure.

This then caused an unfortunate gap between health facilities and the population to be served.

When Zimbabwe got its Independence in 1980, the Government inherited a health delivery system which had shocking disparities among its citizenry.

As a way of making up for the inequalities, Government adopted the Primary Health Care (PHC) approach, which aimed at giving equal healthcare services throughout the country.

Among some of the major highlights of the PHC model was the construction of clinics and hospitals. This proved a success as many people got the services at their doorsteps.

According to information gathered from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, today the country boasts of 1 577 clinics, 112 rural hospitals, 42 district hospitals, seven provincial hospitals, six central hospitals, three general hospitals and 33 other hospitals (private, centres, mines and army facilities).

The figures bring the number of health facilities currently in Zimbabwe to 1 780, which fall short of our requirements as a country.

President Mnangagwa’s Government has gone back to the basics, as the construction of the 6 600 health posts will go a long way in mitigating challenges that most citizens have been experiencing of late.

It is also critical to note that disease prevalence has shot up, and the movement by people owing to the land reform has also unproportionally meant that some areas don’t have clinics.

The clinics come at a time the country has recently adopted a Health Financing Policy in 2018 aimed at reinvigorating the country’s health delivery system through domestic funding.

It is also in the same vein that the construction of the clinics will resonate with the national development agenda, The National Health Strategy 2016-2020 under the theme, “Equity and Quality: Leave no one behind”.

The new dispensation seeks to have everyone aboard in the provision of health. Everyone must have easy access to health provisions.

However, Government must now move a step ahead in making sure that the health facilities are modernised and well equipped.

Health is a complex, evolving issue, therefore, modern equipment must be sought.

President Mnangagwa rightly pointed it out: “The current challenge is to modernise primary healthcare. Sadly, however, our efforts are being greatly hampered by ruinous illegal sanctions imposed on our country.” The mooted idea to construct 6 600 clinics is noble, and will go a long way in improving our health sector, thus bringing smiles on the faces of citizens.

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