Women in Masvingo struggling to access health facilities…..highlight unaffordable price of sanitary pads

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Women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) in Bikita, Zaka and Gutu have raised alarm over the challenges being faced by women in the three districts. As part of raising awareness on Covid 19,the women created Virtual Information Centres where community members discuss topical issues affecting their communities.

Community members highlighted that they are facing challenges in accessing quality services from health facilities due to issues of long distance travel. Before the ban on commuter transport, women were used to commuting to nearest clinics which in most cases would be a distance of more than 10km.In Bikita women, including expecting mothers are travelling a distance of about 5-6km to access Mungei clinic. In most cases women have been turned away due to the unavailability of drugs and been referred to Nyika hospital which is 10km away. The plight of expecting mothers has also been worsened by an increase in transport costs that has seen the available transport charging as much as ZW$20-40 to get to Nyika Growth Point. In Zaka, Jerera satellite clinic is only attending to emergency cases and not conducting any pregnancy check-ups for women. This has resulted in many women giving birth in their homes without specialised care. A case in point is of one woman who was turned away from St Antony hospital after being told by health personnel that she still had weeks before her delivery. The following day, she delivered at her home without any specialised care. In Gutu, women also highlighted a shortage in contraceptive pills with most clinics in the district highlighting that they have run of stock.

Other issues raised by women include the high price for sanitary pads. In Gutu, shops were charging as much as ZW$65 for a packet of sanitary pads while some shops in Bikita are even demanding as much as US$2. This is besides the fact that recently, government scrapped excise duty on sanitary pads. In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores government to put in place policies, laws and resources for the right to basic health care to be enjoyed in Zimbabwe in compliance with Section 76 (1,2,3,4) of the constitution.

The virtual Information centres by Heal Zimbabwe are an initiative meant to equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.

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