Over 45,000 people benefit from free health services in Chipinge and Chimanimani – Zimbabwe
Chimanimani, Zimbabwe – Over the past two years, more than 45,000 people in communities affected by Cyclone Idai have benefited from free integrated health services and gender-based violence (GBV) services provided by WHO, UNICEF, UNOPS-CI and UNFPA as part of the Zimbabwe Cyclone Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP). UNICEF and WHO trained village health workers (VHWs) on essential health information, basic maternal, newborn and child health services. VHWs have been instrumental in mobilizing communities to come and access services provided by UNFPA and WHO at the same time during community outreach. UNFPA provided GBV services in partnership with the Musasa project and FACT, while WHO provided free health services in fixed and outreach locations. In addition, UNOPS-CI supported the purchase of vehicles, medical equipment and miscellaneous items, and the rehabilitation of health centers.
Under ZIRP, which is funded by the World Bank to restore livelihoods and communities affected by Cyclone Idai in 2019, the lives of thousands of survivors have changed for the better. The project, managed by UNOPS, is implemented by several other United Nations partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Food Programme. ZIRP has helped bring health care and other services closer to the people, and thousands of people have benefited.
According to Dr. Tapiwa Nyamagodo, the project’s clinical supervisor, communities affected by the cyclone are still suffering and in need of medical attention. But since most of these people cannot afford to travel long distances to clinics or even pay for services, ZIRP’s free assistance made the difference.
More than two years after devastating Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani, communities are still trying to put their lives back together. For Takemore Mufuya, this journey has not been easy. After losing her husband and child in the disaster, she struggled to regain control of her life.
Like many other survivors of Cyclone Idai, Takemore battled health issues until she was diagnosed with high blood pressure at one of WHO’s ZIRP mobile outreach clinics.
“Once I started taking my meds, I became a different person. I can now work to put food on my children’s table and have received some guidance that has helped me finally come to terms with my loss and begin to heal emotionally,” Takemore said.
The World Bank Country Director for Zimbabwe, Marjorie Mpundu, hailed the implementation of the program which she said has helped bring health services closer to the people.
“One of the things we tried to do was to help the communities restore the health services that were originally available before the cyclone. We did the rehabilitation of the basic health service structures like the clinics and I am happy that this program has integrated health, COVID -19 but especially aspects related to GBV. It is a good way to offer unique health and social support to the community and to see it react to the calamity she faced,” she said.
In addition to clinical services, the project supported the Government of Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 response as well as the training of health workers in healthcare management. A total of 130 Environmental Health Technicians (EHTs) and 168 health workers were trained in IPC disease surveillance and case management.
“We have also supported the surveillance pillar where we have equipped environmental health technician response teams with the technical and logistical support they need to respond to COVID-19. In collaboration with UNOPS-CI, we have also purchased motorcycles which they use to respond to COVID-19 alerts,” says Dr Siwela, WHO ZIRP Project Coordinator.
In addition, the project’s response to GBV has been a major boost, as women can access services when they get their baby growth monitoring and family planning services. UNFPA Technical Specialist for GBV, Ms. Verena Bruno, said this has been successful through the use of the mobile one-stop center for GBV survivors.
Although WHO Integrated Health Services ended in December 2021. The provision of comprehensive and integrated health services through a mobile health service held good promise for sustainability beyond the project cycle , as WHO has integrated Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCC) staff in every outreach. session. Working with WHO ZIRP staff, MoHCC nurses gained experience in running integrated mobile services. Nurses have also benefited from project trainings that include comprehensive management of emergency obstetric and neonatal complications and clinical management of rape survivors.
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Tatenda Ann Chimbwanda
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