'Bad roads hinder healthcare access, delivery'

CHIPINGE - A leading women’s health organisation has identified poor road infrastructure as a major contributor to the country’s high maternal and neonatal deaths.

Executive director of the Women’s Action Group (Wag) Edinah Masiyiwa told a community health day meeting at Rimbi Business Centre on  Tuesday that areas such as Binga, Chipinge, Mbire, Chiredzi, Gokwe North and Hurungwe were the most unsafe districts for childbearing women due to bad infrastructure.

Early child marriages were also cited as a major contributor in the districts that are also remote.

“Although the districts are spread across the country, the common challenge is difficult and poor road network and long distances to health facilities,” Masiyiwa said.

“These districts have the highest maternal mortality, neonatal morbidity and highest unmet health needs.”

Masiyiwa said the community health day was meant to “promote health-seeking behaviours among women, men, and couples.”

Wag is running health interventions in the districts under a programme called H4+ project, which seeks to accelerate progress towards achievement of the reduction of maternal, neonatal and child morbidity and mortality.

“The intervention is meant to enable communities, especially those who are marginalised, to access available integrated HIV, gender-based violence and reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health and sexual and reproductive health services,” Masiyiwa said.

Masiyiwa added that there has been a steady increase in access to health services in the six districts.

“... some changes have been noted as a result of the H4+ programme, key among these is an increase in the numbers of women delivering at the health centre, couple testing, people reporting GBV (gender-based violence), changes in service providers’ attitudes, decrease in early chid marriages and the establishment of some income generating projects to counter gender-based violence,” Masiyiwa said.

Acting Chipinge District Administrator Tedious Beto admitted that poor road network was a major barrier to accessing health facilities in his district.

“We hope that building mothers’ shelters will ease the problem we face as bad roads are a barrier to quick responses to health emergencies,” Beto said.

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