GWERU: The health system in the City of Gweru is continuously falling in shambles as residents have of late complained of ‘no vaccines in council clinics,’ CommuTalk can exclusively reveal.
Through a snap survey, nursing mothers confirmed resorting to private health care as free vaccines were not readily available for their kids by the time of vaccination.
“Recently, I went to Mkoba Poly Clinic to get Pentavalent Oral Poli Vaccine (OPV) which is administered 14 weeks after birth but the vaccine was unavailable. I had to now go for private health care where I forked out USD5-00 which I think is not affordable to many,” said one of the nursing mothers we interviewed, Melody Manatsa said.
“I understand that the budget for health is always set aside. We fear for the lives of our children. Long back the health workers could come to your house if you delay getting your child immunized but it’s now a thing of the past,” added Chipo Machaire.
The challenges are taking charge amid the fact that section 76 of the Zimbabwean constitution guarantees citizens the right to access good quality, available and acceptable health care.
Tops to that, Zimbabwe also attained Universal Child Immunization in 1990 with a considerable reduction in morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases and longer inter-epidemic periods of measles up to 2008.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) immunization is the introduction of a vaccine into the body to stimulate natural immunity hence preventing diseases.
The jeopardy has become a cause for concern to women activists in Gweru.
“As a women leader, I feel that vaccines should always be available for those in need. No one must pay elsewhere to get immunized,” said Jessina Makore of Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau.
Mothers should have a choice to pay for immunization on their own, not to go for private health care on the pretext that public health facilities are failing to provide health services,” added Gracia Mashingaidze, a local ZIMCODD Social Economic Justice Ambassador (SEJA).
The City of Gweru however denied the claims.
“OPV is in stock currently. I am not sure whether someone had a challenge concerning this vaccine so that I verify,” responded City of Gweru Health Director Sam Sekenhamo to a question that asked whether the council has sufficient vaccines to meet demand in their local clinics.
The question went further to verify if they had at one point gotten out of vaccines provided they had vaccines in place to which the director also asked for the clinic under which women had faced a shortage of vaccine problems for further verification.
Immunization is one of the most impactful and cost-effective public health interventions available, averting over 4 million deaths every year.
A study conducted by United Nations “Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 2014, reported that an estimate of 29% of deaths among children aged 1–59 months were due to vaccine-preventable diseases.
However, every child must receive one dose of Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV0) and Hepatitis B Vaccine (HBV1) at birth, Penta1 & OPV1 at 6 weeks of age, Penta2 & OPV2 at 10 weeks of age, Penta3 & OPV3 at 14 weeks of age and measles and yellow fever at 9 months of age.