Minister of Health and Child Care’s Visit to Community Health Club in Chipinge
by Moses Matondo. M&E Officer, Zimbabwe AHEAD.
11 April 2014
Chijumana Village,Ward 27 -Chipinge, Zimbabwe
The Government of Zimbabwe has in the Water Policy of 2013 directed that every village should have a functional Community Health Club (CHC) that seeks to empower communities to take full responsibility in preventive health. The National Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy of 2011 states the Community Health Club approach as the methodology through which Participatory Health and Hygiene Education should be channeled. The Minister’s visit was penciled to assess the functions of the CHC in compliance to Ministry Policy. The USAID funded and ZimAHEAD implemented Cholera Mitigation Programme through Community Health Clubs provided the right platform for the Minister’s assessment.
The Minister was received at a local clinic by the Provincial and District leadership which comprised of the DWSSC members and staff from the local clinic and schools. A brief introduction of the Provincial Health team, the District Health team, staff of ZimAHEAD, staff of the local clinic and the Environmental Health Technicians was conducted.
The District Medical Officer briefed the Minister giving an overview of Chipinge District and the CHCs that ZimAHEAD had started in the 10 wards of Chipinge. She highlighted that Chipinge was in a state of malarial outbreak. However, the areas where the clubs were running had had no increase in cases. The delegation included Director of Environmental Health Department, 2 Senior officials in the Minister’s office responsible for Policy Planning and Public Relations in the Minister’s Office, the Minister’s aide and the Personal Assistant, Ms. Gerede Community Nurse from the National Office, the Provincial Medical Director Dr. Mafaune, the Provincial Environmental Health Officer Mr. Mufambanhando, the Provincial Health Services Administrator Mr. Charangwa, the DMO Dr. Kuwengwa, the DA Mr. Seenza, the DEHO Mr. Makundenyika and his staff, local leadership which included the Kraal Head and Councilor and the ZimAHEAD Program Director, Regis Matimati.
After the briefing the delegation went to Chigurire Club venue where the club members and other community members had gathered. The DMO who was the Master of Ceremony gave each team an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community, the Provincial team, the District team and ZimAHEAD staff, Mduduzile a fellow NGO worker with the SHINE project attended in solidarity with ZimAHEAD.
The welcome remarks were given by the District Administrator Mr. Seenza, who welcomed all to Chipinge District particularly Checheche area. He acknowledged the kraal head’s efforts in his area and the support he gave the community in endeavors of development.
The CBF gave a history of the Club how it was started when Zim AHEAD came into their village. She highlighted that the CHC project had changed their lives as it inculcated a self belief system that weaned them off the dependency syndrome. They had contributed and purchased cement to make a permanent structure and a Blair toilet at the venue. The village also received cement from World Vision to partially construct 39 toilets as they were only 3 bags each for the 39 toilets, but due to the knowledge they had acquired from the CHC they were able to construct an additional 18 from their own resources. The club has 72 members of which 6 are male inclusive of the kraal head. She went on to tell the gathering that disease transmission had reduced as compared to times before the CHCs. The club had appointed some elderly members who assisted the CBF in supervising the village to observe compliance and adherence to learnt health and hygiene behaviour. She also mentioned that the CHC has become a way of life in her village and 7 months after ZimAHEAD withdrew at the end of the USAID funded project the project is still going strong.
Mr. Matimati the Zim AHEAD Program Director spoke of how the Organisation empowers communities through Health Clubs. He pointed out that most diseases that afflict our communities are preventable and through the vehicle of CHCs communities can be empowered to deal with them on their own as it will be viewed as a homegrown and not prescribed by outsiders but it will be the community itself monitoring each other as neighbor becomes the police of neighbor. Through common unity and peer pressure CHCs make societal changes wherever they are implemented. The CHCs become effective because of the applied health method where after sessions participants have practical work to do at their homesteads. Sustainability of the CHCs was ensured as villagers took it upon themselves to prevent and control diseases with technical support from the local health providers going up through the structures at District, Provincial and National Level. The certificates that each CHC member gets after completion testify to the fact that a person has completed sessions and that they actively participate in hygienic practices for the rest of the life. Chijumana CHC was one of 114 such CHCs formed on the USAID funded project 2012-2013. Mr. Matimati further stated that ZimAHEAD has not only worked in Chipinge district both urban and rural, but also in Mutare urban, Chimanimani, Bindura urban, Chiredzi urban, Masvingo urban, Tsholotsho, Makoni, Buhera, Mberengwa and Gutu.
The District Medical Officer gave an overview of the situation in the district with regard to health issues focusing mainly on the curative side. She gave a breakdown of the number of hospitals and clinics within the district privately and publicly owned.
The delegation visited the home of Mrs. Mhlanga who is a club member. At the homestead the kitchen was viewed and the toilets. After the tour of the homestead the Minister gave a brief speech of the effort that had been made at homestead, he went to say that there was need for use of fuel efficient stoves to save on firewood. The siting of Blair toilet should make it user friendly even at night that people do not resort to going behind the house for fear of the long walk and the dark. He discouraged the use of cow dung in houses as it predisposed to environmental enteropathy which causes stunting in children.
Hon.Minister of Health speech
The Minister commended the efforts that had been made by ZimAHEAD. He said that there was need to scale up nationally and incorporating new research findings as the CHC goes. He cited that in Rwanda CHC had been adopted at a national level that each and every village has a CHC as the main tool for disseminating primary health care information. Reviewing the CHC methodology would be done in the light of new information coming up; this statement was made in reference to the SHINE project and the issue of stunting in growth resultant from damage occurring on the ileum as a result of children under 2 taking in harmful pathogens in cow dung, etc.
A short drama showing how clubs were started, from the feedback meetings after the CBF trainings, to registration and CHC session was enacted showing the benefits of being a club member. There were several people enacting the part of people who refused to join health clubs and continued in their unhygienic ways until they fell ill. Upon falling ill they sought different remedies from religious to traditional until at their wits end they seek medical intervention. At their local clinic they are told that they have not been bewitched as they thought but have fallen ill due to their filthy practices which have led to their suffering from diarrheal diseases.
Vote of thanks
The vote of thanks was given by a representative of the Member of Parliament who was not able to attend due to Parliament commitments and had sent his apologies to the Minister of Health and Child Care. He thanked the Minister for coming to the district then went to highlight the challenges they were facing in relation to health in the District.