‘Health centre shortage affects reproductive health’
June 12, 2015 Shingirai Huni Local News
Long distances to health centres continue to be a major impediment to the full enjoyment of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights by communities in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
This was raised by participants at a workshop organised by the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) in conjunction with Oxfam.
The two-day workshop which was held in Bulawayo recently, was meant to strengthen the capacity of the organisation’s partners in their response to sexual and reproductive health rights issues in communities in which they operate.
Representatives from different HIV/Aids grassroots based organisations and local authorities in Midlands and Matabeleland attended the workshop.
Some of the organisations represented at the workshop include, the Umzingwane Aids Network (UAN), Midlands Aids Caring Organisation (MACO), Hope for a Child in Christ and Youth for Today and Tomorrow (YTT).
“Failure to access sexual and reproductive health services facilities and archaic traditional practices, are some of the major barriers affecting the attainment of sexual and reproductive health rights in our communities.
“In most instances, people in Matabeleland and Midlands regions endure gruelling long distances travelling to health centres” said Nonjabulo Mahlangu (CWGH) Project Team Leader.
Mahlangu said what also clearly emerged from the workshop was that communities lack important information and knowledge on sexual and reproductive health issues.
“There’s clearly limited knowledge among communities on sexual and reproductive health issues. There’s a need to engage all stakeholders including Parliament to raise awareness on the issue” she said.
Mahlangu said her organisation will in future sponsor representatives of the organisations to meet MPs in Harare to discuss challenges they were facing.
She also encouraged the organisations to work closely with the government and local authorities in their programmes.
Most participants at the workshop also bemoaned the shortage of HIV viral load testing machines at government hospitals in Bulawayo.
“I think a lot more needs to be done in the provision of HIV testing machines. The whole of Bulawayo province is being serviced by one machine which is at Mpilo Central Hospital. The machine often breaks down thereby risking the lives of HIV positive people”, said one participant.