Mkoba and Mtapa Polyclinics are situated in densely-populated suburbs in Gweru, Zimbabwe, delivering essential healthcare services to a combined catchment area of over 74,000 people. Short staffed and under-resourced, meeting the clinics’ obligations to every patient is a challenge. To assist, ALERT and Antelope Park provide non-specialised manpower in the form of medical volunteers to carry out administrative and observational tasks. This support allows specialised staff to concentrate on essential frontline services, such as midwifery, HIV diagnosis and treatment, and pre and post-natal attention.
As well as assistance in the baby clinic, dispensary, and maternity ward, medical volunteers have been offering support to local residents through home visits accompanied by Antelope Park’s community team.
- In April, a mother named Vilgina received a donation of sunscreen – an expensive purchase in Gweru – to help protect her eight-month-old baby Tinayeshe, who has albinism.
- Vencia lives in a single room with her five children, none of whom attend school. She struggles to feed her family, surviving by doing odd jobs sometimes for as little as $1. During a home visit, she was given sufficient groceries to last for two months, as well as a donation of clothes for the whole family.
- Mirriam Kajamba is 85 and suffers from arthritis. She received a donation of medication to help ease her pain.
- In May, Amai Cosmos, a PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV) patient with four children received a home visit. She and her family live in an unhygienic environment, surviving by collecting coca cola cans which she then heats and makes into three-legged pots for sale. As well as a donation of clothes and food, Amai was taught about the importance of good hygiene to protect her children’s health. Cans were later donated from the bar at Antelope Park to assist her in making an income.
- Blessing currently lives on the street. He had broken his ankle and right hand and was initially refusing to go to the hospital. When medical volunteers offered to accompany him, he agreed to go for treatment. Scans were carried out and Blessing’s hand and ankle were put in plaster. Antelope Park staff and volunteers continued to check on him until he had fully recovered.
- During a visit to the polyclinic, Shingai Nyoni was found to have a low CD4 count (white blood cells that fight infection). A home visit was carried out to assess her situation. It was discovered that widow Shingai was only eating one meal a day, as she could not afford to feed herself and her two children. She had been trying to earn an income by plaiting hair, but was regularly refused payment on completion. Shingai was taken to Antelope Park where she plaited hair for eight volunteers, earning her $40 which she invested in starting a small business to buy and sell vegetables.
- Home visits were also carried out in May to the Bunga family, Gogo Machuma, and twins Atida and Anotida, all of whom are checked on regularly and receive donated groceries and clothes.
- In June, another visit was paid to Vencia. Items amounting to $50 were purchased for her to enable Vencia to become self-sustainable by opening her own small tuck shop from her home.
A HIV support group workshop was held recently. Attended by 40 children, for some it was their first experience of hearing about the different stages of HIV, as well as the stigma attached to being HIV positive. The children actively participated by asking questions and showed an interest in learning how to recognise the symptoms and cope with living with the disease.
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