Over 3 000 people in Nyanga South constituency last week received free medical services courtesy of the Nyanga is Supa Foundation annual medical outreach.
The sixth edition was targeted at vulnerable groups in remote areas and poor communities.
It came at a time when most nurses and doctors in the country are engaged in a month-long industrial action which has left thousands of patients stranded.
On the final day of the three-day programme, co-ordinator Dr Admore Jokwiro said over 3 000 people had been assisted at 18 clinics.
“The free medical outreach is a programme which we carry out annually as members of the Nyanga district health executive team supported by our partners and the Nyanga is Supa Foundation whose patron is Honourable Minister Cde Supa Mandiwanzira,” he said.
“We have been able to cover about 18 clinics in the last three days. We covered six sites on the first day and another six on the second and we conclude with six sites today attending approximately 150 patients per site each day.”
Dr Jokwiro said the most common issues attended to by doctors were to do with chronic medical conditions like hypertension, cardiac conditions and arthritis.
“We have also noted some surgical conditions such as hernias and people with lipomas which is soft tissue masses which need excision,” he said. “We were also doing cervical cancer screening and throughout the weekend the total number of patients we have attended is well over 3 000.”
Nyanga has mountainous terrain and a poor road network, making access to health services difficult.
The outreach covered some of the most difficult areas to access, such as Ruchera, Mapako, Nyajezi, Dazi, Bende, Tombo and Matema.
At Ruchera Clinic, Headman Mr Wilbert Saruchera said, “We appreciate the programme because it is free and it has come within reach for most people here in Ward 16. A lot of people could not afford to go to Nyanga Hospital because of the distance and other various reasons so to have the doctors coming closer to us is great relief.
“Here at Ruchera Clinic about 500 were treated in one day and those numbers tell you how much these services were needed.”
A beneficiary who went through cervical cancer screening at Tombo Clinic, Mrs Mutsa Nyamakanga, said before the programme she could only dream about the procedure.
“We only hear about it through the radio but we never thought that it is something which we can actually do. So we thank the organisers because cervical cancer is deadly particularly to us rural women who have limited access to facilities.
“We appeal to our donors to expand the programme because today only 40 women were able to go through screening.”
Nyanga South legislator and Nyanga is Supa Foundation patron, Cde Mandiwanzira said drugs worth over $15 000 had been availed.
He thanked the 50 doctors, nurses and aides who conducted the outreach even as their colleagues at public health institutions went on strike.
“We all know that junior doctors have been on strike which means that in some of the hospitals the attention has not been there,” he said.
“But if we can make these small efforts that are significant to the community then we will make a huge difference and I believe we are making a huge difference. We had a team of 12 doctors who were part of the 48 professionals involved in the programme since it started.”
Cde Mandiwanzira chronicled some of the sad cases of failure to access healthcare in the area, and what the foundation was doing to improve the situation.
“I was just being told by one of the nurses last night that at Dazi an old woman who came for attention had been told two months ago to go to Nyanga District Hospital but she could not afford the bus fare and for two months she was staying at her house,” he said.
“But because we were able to bring doctors to her door step, not just doctors but free doctors she was so grateful that she had been attended to and she was on her way to recovery.
“We hope that going forwad we will get more support, if we are able to get more support we will expand the programme.
“Most women are here for cervical cancer screening but only 40 were selected to go through the screen test, more have been turned away and we would like to do another outreach which caters for those that have been turned away.”
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