By Lovejoy Mutongwiza recently in Nyanga
NYANGA-More than 3000 people in Nyanga South Constituency benefited from free health service during the annual Nyanga is Supa Free Medical Outreach Program held this weekend.
The three-day outreach program, a brainchild of ICT Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira was targeted at people in remote areas, came at a time when most doctors and nurses across the country are on a national strike that has gone in its third week now, leaving thousands of patients stranded.
Several people who spoke to 263Chat hailed Mandiwanzira for coming up with a program that has been saving lives since 2012.
“I received treatment for my always, nagging legs and back pain. This (the free medical outreach program) is a program that we, as the elderly people, look forward to as we get free treatment.
“Normally, we struggle to go to Nyanga Hospital due to lack of funds so we feel this is a program has in a way, empowered us,” said 68-year-old Sekuru Mukanya from Dazi communal area under Chief Tangwena.
An elderly man receives an injection at Nyafaro Clinic in rural Nyanga as part of the Free Medical Outreach Program, organised by Honourable Supa Mandiwanzira. (Pic by Lovejoy Mutongwiza)
Another beneficiary, Amai Saruchera from Tombo area, who went for cervical cancer screening, said too often, rural women suffer from the non-communicable disease in silence as they go undetected which then leads to deaths.
“In this areas, there have been many women, both young and old, who have died as a result of not receiving early treatment for non-communicable diseases like cancer, hypertension and arthritis. This is because they cannot travel to Nyanga to access medical services, so through this program, at the hands of our Member of Parliament, we have managed to be screened for cervical cancer, which is one of the leading diseases in the area,” she said.
However, member of the Johanne Marange absconded the exercise, a move that was attributed to strict religious beliefs.
Sister in Charge at Nyafaro Clinic, Laiza Momba, said it was worrying that members of the highly popular and conservative group, have been shunning away from coming to clinics to seek medical help.
“We have always had problems in this area when it comes to luring members of the Johanne Marange sect. They are well known for their dislike of medical treatment while preferring faith-based treatment.
“That is not a viable solution for them as most then end up dying from ailments which could be treated. We have tried our best to go into the communities where they reside, but we are always met with resistance,” she said while urging government’s intervention to save lives, especially of children.
Most roads in Rural Nyanga are in bad state and make it difficult for people to access health facilities in time (Pic by Lovejoy Mutongwiza)
Although most people hailed the program, some said road infrastructure needs to be improved so that people will access health facilities easily.
“We travel on very dusty and bumpy roads which make it very difficult to access some of these facilities. A journey which normally takes an hour, will take us more three hours due to the poor state of our roads, so we urge government, through the MP, to heed our call,” said Susan Jack who hails from Gairezi area, one of the most remote areas in Nyanga.
Coordinator of the program, Dr Admore Jokwiro, said drugs worth more than $10 000 were dispatched in the 18 targeted health centres and upon completion of the weekend programs, more than 250 women had been screened for cervical cancer.
Women of all ages queue at Tombo Clinic, Nyanga, to undergo free cervical cancer screening. More than 250 women were screened for cervical cancer under the Free Medical Outreach Program. (Pic by Lovejoy Mutongwiza)
“There has been an overwhelming demand for medical treatment, especially from women, therefore, this year we increased our outreach to other areas which we had not covered previously. The response has been overwhelming meaning we need to do bigger things in the future.
“Our patients need more of these interfaces and hopefully, resources, permitting, we can be able to cover more areas,” he said.
Mandiwanzira said although there has been an industrial action countrywide by doctors, it is the ordinary people who bear the pain of the strikes.
“We must understand that people’s health comes first no matter what. So the industrial action, although justified, should not stop us from helping out communities,” noted Mandiwanzira.
He dismissed claims that the move to help the communities was a cheap campaigning gimmick meant to lure unsuspecting rural voters.
Nyanga South MP, Honourable Supa Mandiwanzira, chats with a mother whose child was not feeling well. The mother and child received free medical treatment and screening at Tombo Clinic Nyanga. (Pic by Lovejoy Mutongwiza)
“We must do our work whether there is an election or not. There is nothing political about helping members of the community who need attention.
“We all know that junior doctors have been on strike and it means that in some hospitals, the attention has not been there. So it needs we need to make a difference by helping our people,” said Mandiwanzira.
Since his election as Nyanga South Member of Parliament in 2013, Mandiwanzira has initiated various programs that have empowered communities.