Imparting life, hope

HARARE - A kombi negotiates a dangerous patch on this dusty road in the impoverished villages dotted on the edges of Dzimbahwe Mountain. Yet, on this treacherous road is the path to hope.

A further two kilometres past a sleepy “business centre” is Chidamoyo Mission Hospital, run by the Church of Christ.

With government hospitals still battling to recover from the near collapse of the economy over the past decade, rural folk such as the ones here have come to rely on church-run health centres that are standing out as an aura of hope.

Ever imagined using manure to pay for your treatment? That is what is happening at the hospital, 80 km west of Karoi town. It accepts “all forms” of payment from cash-poor villagers.

“We are allowed to pay fees through barter trade. So we do not have to worry about dying because of lack of money. The hospital allows us to pay using crops and livestock. They are not strict over payment. You can even bring manure and get treated. It is a welcome initiative for us,” says Regina Mapaka.

Mapaka has travelled 15 km from Chief Mudzimu’s area accompanying her sister suffering from a severe headache.

The 85 bed hospital barter crops and chicken for fees that will be used to feed patients admitted in its wards.

Since 2008 when the country went through world breaking inflation, the hospital resolved to allow barter trade in paying service delivery and it is working.

Kathy McCarty, an American nurse based here has played a central role in mobilising funds and moral support from international donors for nearly 30 years.

The Daily News on Sunday could not talk to her as she is currently out of the country.

But patients queuing for help are happy to talk of how the institution has renewed their hope in the health sector.

“You hardly fail to get medication here as they never run out of supplies. Sister McCarty is playing a crucial role. We are grateful that we are allowed to stay with relatives when admitted and it gives moral support,” says Peter Mukore of Batanai village.

A junior official who cannot be named because he is unauthorised to speak on behalf of the hospital says the institution has 2 000 people on life-prolonging HIV drugs and serves an estimated population of 70 000 people, treating over 5 500 patients monthly.

“We provide services to 15 immunisation clinics away from the hospital. We also provide home-based health care for those who cannot make it to the hospital,” he says.

There are two full-time doctors with a staff compliment of 15 nurses.

One nurse is dedicated full-time to anti natal matters for pregnant women who are also housed at the hospital, which was a treating post during at the height of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war.

Yet, it is not health matters only that this hospital is known for in the community.

Max Jimu, used to work in the hospital gardens and utilised the money and other help he got from the institution to train as a school teacher, rising to the position of headmaster.
He is a businessman now and is happy at the way the hospital has stood the test of time to continue being a pillar of hope for the community.

“Some schools, including from surrounding areas of Uroyi, Dzimahwe and Kemapondo are among those getting assistance from the mission hospital. It is empowering the community through education as well,” says Jimu, who is also a former church committee leader.

With President Robert Mugabe’s “Health for all by 2000” fading away, it is church run hospitals such as Chidamoyo that are now easing the burden of the country’s “ailing’’ health sector while government leaders continue bickering over political power sharing issues. - Criswell Chitsa

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