By Nhau Mangirazi
HARARE- The media has been challenged to interrogate government officials and other stakeholders to be accountable on promises made to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.
Women and Aids Support Network board chair Tariro Kutadza called on media as a ‘critical constituency’ that must be abreast on health dynamics and how they affect the wellbeing of every citizen for a progressive nation.
Speaking during a roundtable discussion of belated UHC officially marked annually on 12 December, Kutadza said every citizen must have access to better health facilities.
‘As HIV and Aids theme say, ‘We must not leave anyone behind, we have thought of engaging the media so that our voice on UHC is well articulated and understood before it reaches the audience and readers. Media must hold those in authority accountable and continue pushing for an acceptable agenda. Our economy is now informal based and we have done so but without media involvement, achievement of goals set will be futile, hence this move at a small scale though with national outlook as we have invited many of you from out of Harare where real stories and challenges are on the ground.,’
Kutadza added that Japan is the best model in the world where any disease is treated equally unlike in Zimbabwe where HIV and AIDS is a burden on taxpayer and yet simple medication is hardly available for ordinary citizens.
‘Out of possible population of 16 million, we have 1.6 million who are on ART getting a taxed medication but there are other diseases that are not catered for. We no 1onger have simple medication like panadol that must be cheapest in our health facilities hence making UHC by 2030 a pipeline dream. We need voices amplified so that action is taken to achieve this as reality,’
Her comments come hardly a week after Radio Voice of the People exposed how disgruntled expecting women in outlying Kariba rural in Siakobvu complained of water crisis while housed at a Mother’s Shelter.
The outlying hospital is within Kariba district facing unaccessible road from Karoi farming town which is the nearest shopping town about 210 kilometers.
The women at a local Mothers Shelter are not happy that lack of running water at the hospital has not been solved for too long besides the fact that availability of water is part of pregnant women right when giving birth.
Participants who attended a National Association of Non-Government Organization (NANGO) workshop said Government was failing to avail medication to the area.
Several participants complained that the maternal health sector is facing challenges for mostly rural women.
‘We are forced to fetch water from a mountainous place far away from the hospital. Lack of water is a big challenge here for us and without water there is no life. We have been forced to camp at the Mother’s Shelter with hope that things are better compared to our communal based facilities to give birth in,’ complained a thirty three old Naume Chaka of Negande who is among expecting mothers.
She has been at the shelter for the past two months and may deliver later this month.
Another expecting mother is eighteen year Locardia Muganhi said since this is her first pregnancy lack of an ambulance at Siakobvu hospital puts several pregnant women life at risk.
‘We face the real risk and challenge that there is no ambulance and once there is a complication during giving birth, expecting mother and the child may die before they reach Karoi which is far away and the road network is not all good. If you want to be transferred, you have to rely on those who have their private cars and with acute fuel crisis, being pregnant is becoming risky here,’ she said.
The call by Siakobvu villagers puts Zimbabwe at risk of dealing with maternal health as it is failing to give basic assistance to pregnant women to give birth i
Meanwhile, the Harare meeting saw women’ rights advocate Virginia Muwanigwa calling on the media not to give up on health as a human rights issue.
‘We know media as the fourth estate and this is critical as you must make Government accountable while at the same time, you give citizens their right to be heard without fear or favor,’ she said.
The meeting was hailed for breaking bearers on health matters and will see more engagements scaled up next year according to Kutadza,