UNICEF yesterday handed over 3000 bicycles to Village Health Workers to scale up integrated maternal, neo-natal and child healthcare at primary health facilities and community level in Zimbabwe.
The bicycles, which were procured through funding from the Germany National Committee, under the theme improving maternal, new born and child health in rural communities in Zimbabwe, were handed over to the Ministry of Health and Child Care at Beatrice District Hospital.
Speaking at the handover of some of the bicycles at Beatrice Rural Hospital, UNICEF Chief of Heath, Dr Nejmudin Bilal underscored the need for prioritizing primary health care and said access to high impact zone was important.
“One of the main barriers to affordable universal health care still remains the limited access to high-impact health interventions for those in rural areas and hard to reach communities,” said Dr Nejmudin Bilal.
“These bicycles are a component of the Village Health Worker kit that enables them to be mobile and efficient in accessing hard to reach areas that might not have access to health facilities,” he added
Village Health Workers have significantly contributed to the improvement of healthcare delivery in Zimbabwe through interventions that have resulted in: increased early antenatal care bookings, institutional deliveries and postnatal care visits; reduction in Maternal and infant mortality; increased immunization coverage; the reduction of communicable diseases through increased treatment adherence to antiretroviral treatment; and overall increased community participation and involvement in health matters.
“The Village Health Worker programme is at the centre of community health care services,” said the Director Curative Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Sydney Makarawu.
“The attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals may be attainable by providing health services to individuals, families and communities,” added Makarawu.
Besides procurement of bicycles UNICEF supports the Village Health Worker programme through procurement of the Village Health Workers medical kits and other tools of trade such as tennis shoes, payment of the Village Health Workers allowances and trainings of new Village Health Workers.
The village health workers expressed joy at the gesture by UNICEF saying it will go a long way in reaching inaccessible places.
“We were having problems in terms of reaching some remote areas. We would walk long distances which meant more work for us. But this donation is a welcome gesture as we will now be able to execute our duties well,” said Mable Maphosa, a village worker in Beatrice.
Meanwhile, government says it is committed to continue mobilisation of resources to train 9000 more VHW which requires more than $1, 5 million.
Currently , the more than 10 700 VHW are being paid by UNICEF and United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) on a quarterly basis a move which other health workers said was not sustainable for the upkeep of their livelihoods.
Mable MaposaSydney MakarawuUNDPUNICEF