Health boost for 280k Harare South residents UNFPA, East and Southern Africa regional director, Lydia Mugomo-Nyatsanza (centre) flanked by country representative Dr Esther Muia (left) Tariro Clinic and Youth Centre sister-in-charge, Constance Mataire during a tour of the clinic in Hopley in Harare on Monday. - Picture: Edward Zvemisha

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter

More than 280 000 people in Hopley and surrounding areas are benefitting from an integration of healthcare services as well as economic empowerment initiatives being offered at Tariro Clinic and Youth Centre.

The facility was established through a partnership between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), ILO, Lafarge Holcim Cement and the City of Harare with the aim to improve the sexual reproductive health of young people through integrating the health services with skills development and economic empowerment.

The clinic has been offering a full range of primary care services that include immunisation, ante-natal and postnatal care, HIV services, circumcision, services to cope with and prevent gender-based violence among many others.

Speaking during a tour of the facility on Monday, UNFPA East and Southern Africa regional director Ms Lydia Zigomo-Nyatsanza, who is in Zimbabwe on a mission visit, said the centre was offering essential services to the most vulnerable groups within the community.

“The Tariro youth centre and one-stop shop, which also has a mobile element to it, are very important not only for curbing gender based violence but also for assisting those who become victims of gender-bsed violence. Going beyond that, it also looks at the survivors and how people move from being victims to survivors. So this is why providing all these life skills, employment generation activities, training and capacity building is important,” she said.

Hopely is one of the most populous districts in Harare with a population of 283 450 of which 65 000 are aged between 10 and 24 years with almost 3000 of those being girls out of school. The district has high rates of child marriages, estimated at 18 percent, and teenage pregnancies at 21 percent.

Ms Zigomo-Nyatsanza said the clinic was offering a holistic service which was linked to the youth centre where young people were receiving training in several trades.

“This is an example of how to integrate different types of sexual reproductive health services with HIV services and normal primary health care but also with an element around education behaviour change and economic empowerment and that is what makes this initiative successful, particularly in a community of over 270 000 people where there are not many other services available for this community,” she said.

There was clearly still a need for more support to enable the clinic and youth centre to provide more services.

“These are things we need to advocate and push so that other partners come on board to support and for the Government itself to invest more in this centre,” said Ms Zigomo-Nyatsanza.

The clinic currently provides ante-natal and postnatal care but is not offering deliveries hence pregnant women are referred to Edith Opperman polyclinic and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital for delivery. However, the maternity services offered at Tariro remain free through the World Bank-financed results-based financing where all mothers are given vouchers for booking at the facility where they go to for delivery.

Harare city health services manager Mr Richard Chigerwe said there were plans to add a maternity wing at the clinic but stressed the need for additional staff.

“We offer comprehensive health services and adjacent to the clinic we have a youth centre where all the other social issues in the community are addressed. One of the biggest challenges is the volume of people coming here. We serve in excess of 500 patients every day so we need a bigger facility and more human resources so that we can turnaround the number of patients we see faster. The staff complement should be around 15 nurses but we are operating with around half of that. We have had to recruit locum nurses through both council and the results-based financing programme to fill that gap.,” he added.

Some of the beneficiaries at the facility have turned their lives around through the support offered by partners at the facility.

Magret Laima (18) was identified by the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV-AIDS Research Zimbabwe (CeSHHAR) while she was selling sex in 2020 after failing to get money to carry on with her A-level studies.

“There are so many young people selling sex in Hopely, not because they want to but because of the circumstances they find themselves in. I passed my O-Level exams in 2019 but my father passed away the same year and my mother could not afford to pay for me to go to A-Level. I came here and since I could not get a job, I started selling sex until Cesshar helped me to go back to school,” she said.

She passed her A-Levels with five points but the programme does not cater for tertiary education hence she is now waiting to find someone to help her to university where she wants to study geology.

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