Access to primary healthcare and disease prevention in rural Zimbabwean communities is inadequate, which contributes to poor health outcomes, increased incidence of disease and a higher mortality rate for these under-served populations.
As a crowdfunded citizens non-profit, Citizens Initiative proposes to continue its highly successful Citizwean Mobile clinic programs run by volunteer doctors and nurses in each of the 10 provinces around Zimbabwe so as to provide quarterly visits for preventive health education, health screenings and non-invasive treatment to families and their children in remote rural areas.
Access to private healthcare options in Zimbabwe is very restricted as upwards of 65% of Zimbabweans are classified as poor or extremely poor and cannot afford private health services. In addition, the public health sector is dysfunctional largely because of inadequate budgetary support for the sector. healthcare workers in the public sector are inadequately compensated which has led to multiple strikes in 2019 and 2020 making healthcare inaccessible to the vulnerable during those periods. The majority of Zimbabwe’s working population is in the informal sector and have no medical insurance coverage. The Covid-19 pandemic limited the ability of informal workers to earn incomes, reducing their ability to afford necessary healthcare..
There is a pressing need for access to primary healthcare for the most vulnerable who are unable to afford and access adequate healthcare services in their communities. Preventative care, addressing Pre-existing conditions and diseases early, nutritional counseling, education on self-care and compliance, can all improve health outcomes and reduce the overall health care costs. It can also reduce the economic burden of the disease for individuals and their families.
WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO:
Citizweans clinics have operated as mobile clinics administered by local doctor and nurse volunteers. In addition to providing the patients with a primary healthcare consultation, the Citizwean Mobile Clinics provided the medical teams with 2 months’ worth of medications for individuals with chronic illnesses. With a budget of US$20000 we were able to provide medication for 4,100 people for 2 months.
For maximum and far reaching impact, the Citizweans Mobile Clinics have operated on a low overhead budget as the healthcare teams were volunteers. This enabled each dollar spent to be directly servicing the healthcare needs. A modification of this model will be the necessity to include a portion of the budget to meet the basic living needs, PPE provision and maintaining the dignity of the healthcare workers and provide them the opportunity to fulfil their mission of delivering compassionate quality care. Increased funding would significantly impact our ability to provide more highly needed medications and allow for us to compensate the selected healthcare workers.
Previously, the program provided the healthcare workers with basic accommodation, transport and food for the duration of the program. Emphasis was placed on remote areas with some existing Primary Health care, as well as those areas with no providers at all. We worked with local health officers to announce the clinics before the teams arrived in the area.
A modification of this model will be to actively engage healthcare teams in existing remote and rural clinics, to determine the specific healthcare needs in their respective communities, and partnering with them to provide needed supplies, medications, as well as coordinated logistical support in the form of reliable referral systems to a network of nationwide doctors and larger hospitals for more complex care when the cases arise.
The doctors in these remote sites would be connected to a countrywide network of doctors for tele-on call medical support, insight, mentorship, as well as digital continuing medical education. We intend to partner with a clinic in each of the 10 provinces for a commitment of 1-2 weeks, and each provincial site to be visited 2 times in a calendar year. This proposal would allow us to move around the country over a 12 month period, thus 10 sites would benefit from the program in 2021.