Maternal health is a global health priority which emphasizes the reduction of maternal mortality in developing countries. Women in rural communities face a plethora of challenges in accessing maternal health. Some of these challenges include travelling long distances to access clinics, maternal mortality and accessing information on sexual reproductive health, family planning, prenatal and post natal services. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goal 3 provides for good health and well-being. This goal focuses on increasing equitable coverage of quality health care and provision of integrated services as means to reduce maternal mortality.
It is under the pursuit of such a goal that community leaders trained by Heal Zimbabwe on Social Accountability and Policy Engagement in Makoni ward 16 sought to improve the welfare of expecting mothers in accessing improved health care services. Having realized the challenges faced by women in the area in accessing quality health care, the social accountability team engaged the local Councillor on the need to construct a waiting mother’s shelter at Chinyadza healthcare centre. Councillor Taurai Chingwende was trained by Heal Zimbabwe in social accountability and policy engagement.
The Social accountability team further engaged Family Visions Child Trust, a Community Based Organization (CBO) that also works with Heal Zimbabwe in mainstreaming social accountability for possible collaborations on the need to construct the mothers’ shelter. From January-March 2019, a series of community dialogues were then organized where community members, duty bearers, local authorities and other stakeholders concurred on the need to construct such a shelter as it was going to ease off the burden of travelling long distances by expecting mothers. The community leaders then drew up a plan that was submitted to Makoni Rural District Council and the Ministry of Health and Child Care. To date, the plan for the mothers’ shelter has been approved and construction work for the shelter has commenced. Added to this as part of promoting accountability and policy engagements in the area, Councillor Chingwende and the clinic committee have engaged multiple stakeholders such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the local Member of Parliament,honourable Christopher Chingosho. In light of this, ZESA has since promised to start the electrification programme at the clinic under its rural electrification programme. Legislator, honourable Chingosho also donated 6 bags of cement to help in the construction of the mothers’ shelter.
The Social Accountability dialogues are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s advocacy initiative that seeks to promote social cohesion and improve service delivery within local communities. Cohesive communities help establish harmony so that people are tolerant of each other and live together in peace. Added to this, the dialogues also seek to bring the voices of citizens into governance, enabling citizens to monitor and provide feedback on the delivery of services, and helping to build trust between rights holders and duty bearers.