Paidamoyo Chipunza in Chinhoyi
Mashonaland West province is appealing for more funding to capacitate health professionals in the province on community engagement to promote health seeking behaviour. Speaking to journalists after a three-day media tour in Mashonaland West recently, provincial nursing officer, Farayi Marufu, hailed clinics with vibrant community health centre committees (HCC) saying their work resulted in the improvement in provision of health services compared to those without such structures.
“Indeed there is a huge difference in health centres with vibrant HCCs compared to those that were not strengthened. “For example at Dzivarasekwa extension clinic in Zvimba district, they are doing so well such that I have instructed that it operates 24 hours as it is handling more deliveries compared to all clinics in the province, more than even Banket District Hospital,” he said.
Mr Marufu said the clinic was even receiving up to $10 000 funding per quarter from the result-based financing project compared to other clinics elsewhere with the same catchment area receiving as little as $50 per quarter.
The result-based financing is a funding model used to assist clinics with funding mainly for maternal and child health programmes and the allocations are calculated based on performance of a facility.
Mr Marufu said statistics have also shown that home deliveries were on the decrease in districts such as Zvimba as communities paid heed to Government’s call to deliver in health institutions to minimise chances of maternal and child deaths.
He attributed the positive results to a Government programme called strengthening community participation in health being implemented by Save the Children in partnership with Community Working Group on Health.
Under this programme, Government is working with 166 clinics from 21 districts across the country to strengthen health centre committees, which then link communities and health facilities.
The HCCs, which comprise of different stakeholders including traditional and religious leaders, traditional healers among others encourage health seeking behaviour such as delivering in a health facility and they also work with clinics in their developmental projects.
Communities from some clinics such as Sutton in Zvimba North, Madzorera in Zvimba South, Zumbare and Kanyaga in Makonde have built mothers’ waiting shelters to minimise chances of pregnant women delaying in getting health assistance.
Provincial maternal and child health officer, Dr Justice Mudavanhu, concurred that through this project, maternal deaths had decreased in the province. “Before this project came, there were many cases of home deliveries and delay to access health facilities by expecting mothers which all led to the high maternal mortality ratio but following the engagement of community leaders, this is now a thing of the past.
“In all the areas that have been covered by the project, we are really seeing the results compared to those areas that were not covered. He said the difference was quite evident such that even the patients themselves had begun shunning their nearest facilities opting for those that were doing well, where they get better services.
Dr Mudavanhu said given that background, there was need for more funding to strengthen HCCs in areas that were not covered by the Save the Children project since it was coming to an end.
Strengthening community participation in health project advisor with Save the Children, Mr Foster Matyatya, said their project was ending in June but they were in the process of mobilising more funds to ensure that all HCCs were at par.