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SENATE HANSARD 24 AUGUST 2021 VOL 30 NO 58
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 24th August, 2021
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE
PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to inform the
Senate that I have received Non-Adverse Reports from the
Parliamentary Legal Committee on Cyber and Data Protection Bill [H. B. 18A, 2019] and the Forest Amendment Bill [H. B. 19 A, 2019].
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND WEST PROVICE (HON. SEN. MUNZVERENGWI): I move that Orders of
the Day, Nos. 1 and 2 be stood over until all the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
STRENGTHENING THE HEALTH DELIVERY SYSTEM TO
ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House,
MINDFUL that the health delivery system is based on primary health care approach as defined in the World Health Organisation Alma
Atta Declaration of 1978 and enshrined in Section 29 of the
Constitution, that the State must take all practical measures to ensure the provision of basic, accessible and adequate health services throughout
ALSO MINDFUL that the State must take all preventive measures within the limits of the resources available to it, including education and public awareness programmes, against the spread of diseases;
DISTURBED by the inadequacy of medical provisions such as drugs and lack of transport to ferry the sick leading to some deaths which can be avoided if such resources are availed;
FURTHER DISTURBED by the absence of kidney dialysis machines in Provincial Hospitals leading to untold suffering by patients;
NOW, THEREFORE, CALLS upon Government to partner with the
private sector in a concerted bid to:
- Strengthen the health delivery system as a way of achieving universal health coverage countrywide;
- Allocate adequate resources for the procurement of medical supplies and also for the provision of ambulances and other forms of transport to enhance health service delivery in the country;
- Consider subsidising kidney dialysis as it is extremely expensive for our citizens who fall victim to such ailments and
- Provide decent accommodation to doctors as a way of motivating and incentivising them as they conduct their day to day health delivery services of saving lives of our dear Zimbabweans.
HON. SEN. A. DUBE: I second.
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I seek your permission to read my notes Hon. Madam President.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Alright, you can
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President. Zimbabwe boasts of a very progressive Constitution, even when it comes to health matters. Enshrined in its founding principles, in Section
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order Hon. Member,
you are not connected. Can someone make sure that she is connected?
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President. Zimbabwe boasts of a very progressive Constitution, even when it comes to health matters. Enshrined in its founding principles is Section
29 (1), which reads, ‘the State must take all practical measures to ensure the provision of basic, accessible and adequate health services throughout Zimbabwe.’ Going further down to Section 76 under the Bill of Rights – I will focus on Sections 1 and 2 which read;
- Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to access basic health care services, which include reproductive health care services;
- Every person living with a chronic illness has a right to have access to basic health care services for the illness;
- Health is a fundamental aspect of national development and a healthy people and workforce attains much as compared to a sick population. In recognising this, the Government rightfully accorded Health and Well-being its own chapter as an economic enabler in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1); hence it is a top priority for Zimbabwe to ensure that health care is accessible, available and is of good quality.
- Zimbabwe has a very strong health framework built upon the 1978 Alma Atta Primary Health Care approach, which identified primary health care as the key to the attainment of the goal of ‘health for all’. However, over the last two decades, the sector experienced much adversity and has suffered under the economic downturn, and now reflects a scenario far away from the desired outcome. To quote the NDS 1, “the health sector is also faced with a critical shortage of specialised professionals and health care staff, demotivated staff who go on strikes, dilapidated hospital infrastructure, lack of essential machines and commodities, inadequate emergency services for delivery and under-utilisation of existing antenatal services.
Madam President, the essence of my motion is to try and add a strong voice towards addressing these acknowledged challenges. I will be making reference mostly to Mashonaland Province which I represent, but I am reliably informed that the situation depicts what is obtaining across all the other rural provinces. I am sure as Senators contribute to this motion, the true national picture will emerge.
The first level health care is designed to be at ward level where no household is supposed to walk more than five km to a rural health centre or clinic. Each rural health centre is supposed to be manned by three nurses and an Environmental Health Technician (EHT). This facility is designed to handle all normal baby deliveries, among other regular community health care needs. This is not the situation currently prevailing in our villages, worse still in the resettlement areas. Parliament hearings are still gathering evidence of people who travel up to 50 km to the nearest primary care facility.
Availability of medicines and basic equipment for temperature, weight, blood pressure and blood sugar level at these clinics remains a challenge. We still have people in the rural areas being forced to fetch essential medicines from the nearest town at a cost which most can hardly afford. A rural clinic without antibiotics and bandages is a common case in our country. If Zimbabwe has to attain its National Development Strategy 1(SDG 1) objectives and fulfill the Constitutional provisions I alluded to above, the best way forward is to make the primary health care fully functional.
On secondary health care level going up the system, we find secondary health care facilities at district level normally called district hospitals. Cases that cannot be handled at a clinic and needs the attention of a doctor are referred to this level. Transferring patients, especially in critical circumstances like during baby delivery, has suffered a lot due to ambulance shortages. This situation has contributed to avoidable maternal deaths and at the current maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 462 per 100 000. Zimbabwe has to move faster in addressing the challenges if we are to attain the global 2030 Sexual and Reproductive Health target of fewer than 70 maternal deaths per every 100 000 live births.
In Mashonaland Central for instance, each hospital services an average of 15 clinics, yet most hospitals only have one reliable ambulance. This ambulance has to cover all the clinics and also handle transfers to the Provincial and Harare Hospitals on top of other service errands. Zimbabwe has high literacy and knowledge level with regards to their health matters and in the last decade, we saw a significant drop in major disease prevalence and incidences, for example malaria, Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) also dropped from 960 in 2010 as more women delivered in designated institutions. These high level of citizens’ awareness now need to be supported by a well- resourced health care system at all levels. At district hospitals, you find more nurses, doctors (general practitioners), other professionals and services like pharmacy, X-ray, rehabilitation and other such services. In Mashonaland Central, we have 12 hospitals and they are not all operating at the desired capacity. Some Mission Hospitals are playing the role since Government has no district hospitals in all districts.
Caesarian section is a critical service to any civilised society. It is sad to note that in my province, it is fast becoming a privilege of a few while more die while giving birth. Shamva has no operating room; Chimhanda has neither doctors and specialised nurses nor equipment to do anesthetics. Mary Mount Mission does not have specialised nurses and doctors and Mvurwi has no specialised nurses too.
Due to the recent utilisation of the Health Levy, commonly called airtime levy to procure medicines, hospitals registered significant stocks. This improvement needs to be sustained and augmented by the fiscus to ensure that we do not slide back to the era where more than 95% of medicines were donor funded and critically scarce. More funding is needed to ensure that all basic machines like those that test the level of blood in one’s body are available at our centres. X-ray and other scanning machines should be procured. There are districts without these basic machines. Citizens have to pay through their noses to access these services from private surgeries. To become an upper middle class economy requires that we enhance our health institutions to an extent that our country becomes a central referral ‘Health Centre’ in Southern Africa and beyond - no need to fly abroad for treatment. We have the capacity and human resources and can do it if we exert our efforts and commitment towards this noble idea.
Allow me Madam President, to move on to the third level, which is made up of provincial hospitals. Here we are supposed to find more doctors and specialists in Obstetrics and Gynecology (dealing with women health and pregnancies), Surgeons (for operations), Pediatrics
(children’s health), Anesthetics (putting people to sleep for operation) and those specialised in medicine called Physicians.
Mashonaland Central Province, just like Matabeleland North
Province, has no provincial hospital and makes use of Bindura Hospital. This situation has resulted in several shortcomings at this critical level of health care. To begin with, the hospital has to hire specialists, most of whom have to commute from Harare and are not always available. There are still unoccupied specialist posts as the province is failing to attract them.
Mashonaland Central’s third level challenges cannot only be solved by hiring specialists, since certain cases require an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which is not there. There is also no Kidney Dialysis Unit. The province has many people suffering kidney failure and a big number is dying. Currently, all people with kidney failure are referred to the overwhelmed Harare for dialysis and some still fail to make it through the waiting list. According to the Ministry of Health website, more than a thousand people are diagnosed of kidney failure annually and require dialysis three times a week.
Madam President, these challenges, like I said, are replicated in almost every other rural province and I call upon the Executive to not only continue increasing the Health Ministry Budget, but further dig deeper into investment scenarios that would pump in situationoverhauling funds. The Government must ensure sustainable partnerships are well established with the private sector. Our country is endowed with natural resources and if well-managed, we can transform not only our health sector but achieve the entire NDS 1.
While we are expanding and modernising our healthcare system, it is critical to ensure that it remains accessible to all as we leave no one behind. The cost of healthcare has fast gone beyond the reach of many citizens, worse still, when faced with such pandemics like COVID-19, which has disempowered many people economically. It is high time we resuscitate and establish safety nets and get the parked National Health
Insurance up and running. I thank you Madam President.
+HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Madam President for
affording me this opportunity to add my voice to this motion, which was raised by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi, pertaining to health. Healthcare issues are crucial. There is nothing we can do without good health. I thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for raising such a motion. It is important that in areas that we come from and even across the country, there should be doctors and nurses. It is important that every hospital has qualified personnel who are trained to address different illnesses.
I appreciate that Government saw it fit that there should be clinics every 5km to reduce travelling distances for patients. I have noticed that councils are building clinics. This should be the trend because a sick person cannot walk for more than 5km to seek medical care, especially these days when people tire easily. So, we appreciate that proposal. I have noted that there are a lot of efforts that are being made. I have also noted that there are young people who enroll for nurse training and I propose that Government should motivate nurses in order to reduce brain drain. There is no bigger profession than the nursing profession. These are the people who care for us. They must be given a substantial amount of money so that they retain their jobs.
In other rural clinics, you would find that there is only one nurse who will be attending to many patients. Especially these days when people are being vaccinated for COVID-19, you find 100 patients waiting for one nurse. My plea is that this august Senate should advocate that more nurses should be recruited. In other provinces, especially in Matabeleland North, of course we did not have a provincial hospital but now we have one in Lupane, St Lukes Provincial Hospital. We appreciate that it is a good job but before the opening of the provincial hospital, people are going to United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mpilo Central Hospital. So, it is important that the provincial hospital in Matabeleland North be completed forthwith so that people from the seven districts should benefit from St Lukes Hospital instead of traveling to Bulawayo. However, if this provincial hospital is going to cater for all districts in the province, then this becomes very crucial. In every district, there is a district hospital but serious cases are referred to the provincial hospital. We appreciate the good work.
Let me also point out that there is shortage of medication in hospitals. People experience different illnesses. There are a lot of illnesses, especially those who suffer from hypertension. In the past, we knew that hypertension was for the elderly, the 70 years and above but nowadays, you find a 20-year-old suffering from hypertension. This means that hypertension can affect anyone and it cannot be limited to age. You find even young people suffering from diabetes. My plea is that there should be enough medication in all hospitals. Even when the annual budget is being prepared, the Health Ministry should receive enough funding so that there is enough medication in different hospitals. This will save people from traveling to seek medication in places like
Bulawayo from Lupane or Nkayi. In many places, you will find people traveling long distances. However, there are crooks who are found opening pharmacies outside big hospitals like Mpilo so that rural patients can go and buy their medications from such pharmacies. This is because people take advantage of the rural people who will be desperate for medication. So it is important that there should be enough medication in hospitals.
There are also those who suffer from kidney ailments. In the past, kidney ailments were for the elderly but nowadays, you find even young people suffering from kidney ailments and there are shortages of dialysis machines. I heard the previous speaker saying that some people go for dialysis three times per week. It is quite difficult for patients to travel long distances to seek dialysis services.
So it is important that in every district hospital, there should be specialists and machines for dialysis. There are a lot of people who are suffering from kidney problems. It is important that they get medical assistance. Health issues are quite crucial. Looking at ambulances in different areas, there are shortages of ambulances. Some people get into labour. As I am debating, it might seem as if I am talking about my own constituency, but if you go to Madhumbeni, you discover that there are some 13 and 14 year olds who are around 100. At times you find them needing such services. At times you are told that there are no ambulances.
My request is that there should be ambulances in different hospitals. Some people die because there are no ambulances. Let me also request that if Government procures ambulances or provides ambulances to different district hospitals, there should be places where these ambulances can be serviced. Let me give an example: In Tsholotsho, there is no ambulance but now they have one ambulance. This ambulance must clock 5 000 kilometers mileage for it to be serviced. In Tsholotsho, when you go around the different wards, you can go for 200 kilometers to take a patient, which means within five days you can clock the 5 000 kilometer mileage yet garages which are supposed to service these ambulances are only in Harare. My request is that ambulances should be serviced in Bulawayo. There should be a garage which services such ambulances instead of the ambulance travelling for
1 000 kilometers to Harare for service. This means that it is a waste of resources and fuel.
Madam President, the fuel that is going to be used is too much. This means after service, the ambulance will travel for 1 000 kilometers, meaning that it will be left with 4 000 kilometers for it to be serviced again. So, to and from Harare, you discover that it clocks its mileage. My request is that there should be different garages which will service ambulances in areas that are close to where they will be operating from.
The challenge that we face is that you find young girls falling pregnant after being taken advantage of by those who work in South Africa. It is important for Government to look into the issue so that the girl child is protected. This is quite painful that a young girl falls pregnant. However, they must be able to access maternity services nearer to where they stay. It is important that we have good health care centres. Right now we are facing COVID-19. It is difficult when people fall sick. You find that the isolation centres are far from different districts.
At times some people are isolated in the local hospital. At one point we were shocked when we learnt that 30 nurses had tested positive in a certain hospital. If there are isolation centres, this will assist the nurses. When some test positive in hospitals, it becomes difficult even for patients and other nurses because the environment might not be conducive and there might not be space to accommodate those who test positive.
It is important that health care centres are capacitated. Madam President, even strikes and job actions should be contained so that hospitals are found to be working. When patients go to hospitals and find that nursing staff are on strike, it demoralises patients. That is why we are asking that the Minister of Finance injects capital into the Ministry of Health so that health care professionals are motivated and receive incentives. Sometimes there are people who deceive others.
I would like to appreciate Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi’s motion regarding health care in the country because I have noted that where we all come from, we face different illnesses and different health care challenges across the country. Health care is as crucial as access to water. I thank you Madam Preisdent for giving me this opportunity.
*HON. SEN. DENGA: I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for raising this crucial motion. As you know Madam President, when people are healthy, even their day to day jobs are going to prosper. This motion is very important and if we look at our provincial hospitals and district hospitals up to the wards and clinics, there are many problems which are faced by these health institutions, especially on the issue of accessibility of facilities and medicines.
For example, where I come from in Chikomba, you arrive at a clinic and you cannot find even simple equipment like a thermometer or BP machine. Even at Nharira Clinic, you can be told that we do have thermometers but these machines do not have the batteries. At some point I had to donate some batteries at Nharira Clinic. It was painful to see that many people were going back home without being checked on their BP and temperatures. Hon. President, the facilities should be close to people, as Government policy says that a person must not travel more than 20 kilometers. When they decide to board buses they pay between three to five dollars and they do not have access to Government public transport which is cheaper. These people are using private cars of certain individuals. For us to achieve sustainable development, I think most of the time we accept the Budget as Members of Parliament, we want results. We put a lot of money to the health sector. We want to believe that the funds are not utilised because at the end of the day, we do not see good results whereby people will be assisted through the budget funds which we pass here in Parliament.
Mr. President, we plead that when the Ministry of Health is allocated money, it must budget that money properly so that people can receive medications and there be availability of ambulances at their respective health facilities. We do also have what we call village health workers, we are encouraging Government to give them better allowances. Village health workers are the ones who are working with the community on a day to basis. When we were moving around, we got reports of the situation on the ground from the community health workers. This shows that they are the ones who are the eyes of the hospitals and they are the ones who know most of the diseases found in the communities.
Mr. President, we recommend that when the Ministry of Health has been allocated some funds, if the Ministry cannot do the allocations properly, it must consult the DSOs and other relevant authorities who fall under the Ministry of Health. This will assist them to prioritise properly for people to be able to access health facilities. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President for
giving me this opportunity to support the motion which is important to us as a country. We all know that if there is need for good health, health care facilities should be in good shape. We are few in this House, due to COVID-19 because we want to contain the disease from spreading and there is need to observe social distancing.
Mr. President, ministries are allocated their budgets including the Ministry of Health. What needs to be done on the issue of health is to urge private sectors to be involved. They should assist in improving the health systems.
I would like to thank the Defence Forces for building clinics around Zimbabwe to prevent people from walking long distances to seek medical assistance. People should get medicines near their homesteads. I am kindly asking the private sector to consider what is being done by the Defence Forces. The private sector should drill boreholes. Some of them are into mining; they should plough back to the communities and they should improve the services in the communities by way of medicines, machines and so forth.
We all know that Government resources are not enough. There are a lot of things that Government needs to budget for. Health is more important, so Government needs help like the one that was offered during Cyclone Idai. A lot of companies came forward to overcome the problem during Cyclone Idai. We want people to get specialised treatment, for example dialysis. People need to go on dialysis machines but there is no equipment to diagnose in the first place. There are no doctors at district hospitals. People are dying in the rural areas because there is no help which is being given to them. Some do not have bus fares to go to hospitals where there are specialists.
Mr. Speaker, there is need for the health workers and us to come together with communities and teach them about early pregnancies of children. It is difficult to note that a 13 year old gets married due to different reasons, be it beliefs and so on. Hon. Senators, we have a lot of work to do in our communities. People need to know that it is not good to engage in early marriages.
The First Lady travels around the country teaching people about early pregnancies and we have to unite with her to teach children about early pregnancy in our communities as legislators so that this issue comes to an end. Children are being taught our values.
I would like to applaud the Ministry of Health and Child Care which is trying their level best to assist the community. On Heroes Day, there are doctors who travelled to operate the Siamese twins and the operation was successful. Government rewarded these doctors and we applaud this gesture. This is important for us as a country. Doctors should be given enough resources so that they assist people in whatever way they can. The Government must give them enough resources since they have enough knowledge to help the people in terms of health.
If we unite as a country on this issue, we will conquer. As Zimbabweans, we should unite and work together – those with knowledge and money, we have to provide resources for the doctors so that our health services improve. We will not suffer; our clinics will be near us at five kilometre radius. It will be a success because if a health problem affects us, it will not be at Ministry or Government level,but it will affect the whole nation, hence all of us as a nation should play a part in improving our health service delivery system. I thank you.
(v)HON. SEN. MOHADI:Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to debate. The topic on the floor is very hard to tackle. If you look at hospitals, the distance from one hospital to another - it is impossible for us to say that we can have a distance of five kilometres between hospitals or between a clinic and a hospital. If we take areas like Chikwarakwara which is very far from the district hospital – people travel a journey of more than 130 km to reach the hospital. Some women end up delivering before reaching the hospital. They end up failing to get support and assistance. Usually, the people who assist these pregnant women do not have enough knowledge.
In clinics, there are no doctors and the nurses get overwhelmed with duties such that they are not able to cope with the number of patients that need to be attended to or know the correct medicines they are supposed to issue.
If we look at the age group of 13-14 years, there are usually some complications that require doctors and not nurses only. There are no ambulances again, or there is only one. In the event that there is an emergency, the distance that the ambulance has to cover is very long, making the chances of survival very slim for some patients.
Doctors are always found in large cities like Bulawayo and Harare. In areas like Plumtree and Chikwarakwara, for you to get to Harare from these areas, you are required to travel a distance of more than 700 km and there is no transport. Sometimes you find that the ambulance is said to have run out of fuel. This propels families that can affordto end up making contributions to buy fuel for the ambulance so that their relative can be transferred to another hospital. Others that are not privileged enough remain burdened.
The other issue is on the Marriages Bill. This Bill has to prevent and protect children from delivering whilst they are still young because they suffer a lot of complications during delivering at this tender age. Look at the issue of the Marange girl who died whilst giving birth at the shrine. They denied her the chance to go to the hospital. If this Bill had been debated long back, it would have protected or shun people from taking advantage of young children and they would have been arrested and punished.
Our traditional leaders are supposed to work hand in glove with the community to encourage young children or people to go to hospital whilst there is still time.
If you look at the issue of health care givers also, they are not being paid. There are people who are not that qualified in the field ofmedicine. We require nurses in rural areas because home based care givers are not well versed on medical issues. They are supposed to visit patients that are not in hospitals around the villages and communities. They are not supposed to go without protective equipment but they are supposed to be given proper protective equipment. These home based care givers are the ones that assist people in the villages and we depend on them to offer these services since we do not have much nurses and doctors in the rural areas. They are supposed to be appreciated so that they are able to work effectively. The rate of people that are delivering in their homes is high and there needs to be more trained personnel.
Lastly, health budget should be allocated a lot of money because there are a lot of people that cannot afford hospitals bills. We need to have a budget to assist the elderly and the crippled so that they can access health facilities when they are not feeling well. Because the budget does not have enough money, it ends up serving few people, ignoring the elderly and the crippled.
The other issue is that we do not have enough nurses and doctors. If it was possible, we were supposed to have enough doctors who could visit rural areas twice or once in a month so that they can also attend to patients that are not able to visit hospitals that are far away. This could also assist in making the health institutions work more effectively. With these few words, I thank you Mr. President.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: Thank you Mr. President for
giving me an opportunity to contribute on the motion that was brought by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi on the health delivery system. I want to add a few words to what other Senators have already mentioned. My emphasis is on the song by well-known artist Oliver Mtukudzi, which when translated says, ‘Who is rich, the one with wealth or the one who is healthy’. We cannot speak to the dead. The wealth of someone is important when they are healthy. Most people live in rural areas, as pointed out and in Manicaland where I come from; we face many problems including lack of resources for those who work in the health sector. Most of the challenges were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation and circumstances people are living under are no longer normal. Those working in the health sector are failing to access PPEs in their operations and health facilities are far away. Some of the affected people travel for almost 120km to access health services.
For example in Buhera, people travel from Birchenough to Murambinda.
In Buhera, there is no Government hospital. We are surviving by grace.
Murambinda Hospital is where people who would have been involved in accidents on the Bulawayo-Mozambique Highway are taken to but there is no ambulance on those facilities.
I do not know what happened to the ambulances that were being repaired at local branches or CMED. The vehicles they use constantly break down because of the terrain. They would have eaten into their service mileage and they leave a void. Now they become a problem of ferrying people to hospitals. These institutions are suffering from lack of resources. I understand there was a law that was enacted with regards to procurement. I acknowledge we have PRAZ in charge of procurement. I do not know what the initiative behind PRAZ was, but we need to look at how these issues affect communities. If a community wants to purchase an ambulance, the legal issues surrounding such a donation, things have to go to Harare first whilst people are left wanting. People would like to thank the Second Republic that has made all public health facilities accessible. Most of our people do not know health facilities are accessible and most of the women were giving birth in their homes, the reason being that the health facilities are far away. We are grateful for that gesture.
There is a difference between a nurse and a community health worker at district hospitals. They have same grades but they live differently. We want to encourage the Government to develop health facilities in the rural areas. Some of the houses that these people are living in are in a sorry state, they are shambolic. Things have actually fallen apart in these areas. Those who are working on delicate jobs and such important health institutions should be well looked after so that they are motivated and they do not feel short-changed.
This issue on drugs; drugs are indeed there in hospitals but at times most of the patients are grown-ups and for them to access a clinic is very critical for them. Back in the old days, we used to have mobile clinics and this is something that we should encourage to say, besides a local clinic there should be a mobile clinic that helps the elderly access their medication. Once in a while, they should be able to access their medication. I was in the rural areas; actually what is happening because of the distance is that those who are HIV positive are giving their medical record cards to one individual to visit the clinic for collection of medication. For them to travel eight kilometres to go to the clinic is very difficult, such that others end up defaulting because of the distance.
All these things have to be looked at.
I would also want to acknowledge that our roads have been renovated, so let us try to reach the elderly people. All of us are going to age. Even those in the rural areas have things that they did for us, so let us assist them until they depart. Let us not abandon them but let us leave things at their doorsteps and by so doing we would have solved a very difficult situation for them. Because of this COVID pandemic, most rural area homesteads are now filled with orphans. We have 89 year old women who are guardians to children as little as Grade twos.
Food that is consumed by patients – sometimes our procurement laws are very difficult. They submit requisitions but food is not delivered. Those people who are ill need to be fed. Some of these laws should be flexible and there should be decentralisation of rules. We understand that there are procurement management units. The Government and Parliament should decentralise to allow devolution. Institutions that work with the Government should be decentralised so that people in the rural areas are empowered to enable smooth flow of services. In a very short period of time, people pass on; people are dying before their time. We want to be able to say, some of the things that are happening within a particular area, let us close all loopholes to avoid any corrupt activities. For example we are chiefs, beneath me is the headman, and everything that happens at village level the headman will be able to solve but that which is beyond him/her, they reach out to the chief. For local problems, let us thrive to have local solutions.
We have plenty of food around the country which should benefit local institutions. Health is very important. We should look closely on the issue ambulances, the welfare of doctors and so on. The country has now been globalised due to technology. Health personnel compare themselves with professionals from other countries and if they are lured by what they get they end up leaving the country for those other countries. Let us thrive to retain skills in this country. We should be able to give those in the rural areas incentives to keep them at home.
Those in the rural areas should be given more money than those in the urban areas because those in the rural areas are marginalised. Their own children attend poor schools. If you compare with those who attend school in urban areas, you see that there are failed opportunities because of the poor facilities those in rural areas are exposed to. Let us look closely at our workforce in the rural areas and uplift them, work on developing them and give them better working conditions. They should be provided with ambulance vehicles. In Murambinda where I come from, we only have one ambulance which services Gandachibvuva near Sadza, taking patients to Murambinda and reach as far as Gutu and Dorowa. At times it is used for other works, so we need to look closely those issues. The budget for the Ministry of Health and Child Care should be looked at closely so that we address some of these issues. We should chip in with regards to the budget issues of this particular Ministry. The budget should enable us to have sustainable solutions as a country. Our wealth is our health. I might not have money but the fact that I am living means that I am wealthy.
That is my contribution following this motion. Thank you very much Hon. Senator for bringing such a motion in this House. Thank you Mr. President for giving us this opportunity, I just thought I should also contribute to this motion because health is very important so that we uplift and develop our country.
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 25th August, 2021.
REPORT OF THE JOINT THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ON THE PROVISION OF
QUALITY EDUCATION, SANITISATION AND HYGIENE
MANAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS
Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Joint Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals on the Provision of Quality Education, Sanitisation and Hygiene Management in Schools
Question again proposed.
*HON. SEN. DR. PARIRENYATWA: Thank you Mr. President
Sir. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane for bringing this report to this House, seconded by Hon. Sen. Muzenda. This is a very important motion. Those who went around looking at the issue of sustainable development with regards to education - that is Goal Number four; we have 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Number four is that of education. It compels quality education and it allows us to develop it. Again it promotes life-long learning opportunities for individuals. To say when you are engaged in education, you are prompted to think and be innovative. It also promotes gender equality.
If people learn together, men and women, there is no gender segregation. If you look in school these days, we have more girls than boys in some classes, that is promoting gender equality.
If you learn, you are given opportunities to learn new things. This is a very good motion because it actually promotes Vision 2030. Also, education is a human rights issue because it empowers people. It should empower people, not only thinking but also empower them with skills. We understand our education is also focusing on skills. Also it focuses on values. I think when this Committee visited different places, this is one of the things they were looking at. To say are they getting these values from this particular mode of education? Are they getting appropriate skills? I am sure that we all get that report, reporting on certain areas where there is need for greater attention. This points us to Sustainable Development Goals which were enacted in 2016 by the UN Agents.
I think if you are to remember, we received some outcomes on Goal Number four. When I was listening to this report, I understood that they were looking at all these things, especially sexual reproductive care services for young girls. We heard people mentioning those things, where people were talking about sanitary pads, which is something that really pained women who attended these meetings. Between nine and ten years, this is where they start their menstrual periods. This is when they start looking to say do they have access to these sanitary pads? They also focused on teaching children sexual education, not to teach them to say do this and that but for them to understand what makes a woman and what makes a man. That also should focus on their age. For example, someone in grade five, when they are taught about sexual reproduction, that education should be different from someone who is in high school or in university. I am confident that our schools are doing exactly that. Again for children to continue going to school e should look closely to say how they are managing to raise school fees. So, what can we do to assist in that area? We should also consider the issue where we mentioned long back that education should be free. We need to consider that.
When we grew up, there was supplementary feeding scheme in schools. In Highfield, at 10 o’clock, we would get a very big bowl full of soup. This would give us some energy, even if they miss breakfast, they knew they would get something at school. It may be useful to continue that so that those schools that are marginalised can assist the children to get energy to continue learning. We used to have a literacy rate at more than 90%; Tunisia used to be on top of us. When the Committee went out, I am sure they were looking at this issue also. This Committee revealed a lot of things that they were looking at.
There is also the issue of sanitation and hygiene. This is one of the issues that was portrayed in this report. Government should have a school health programme in all schools, to say every child that is going to a boarding school; for example, Fletcher High School, Goromonzi or Gokomere, the first thing when they go to school, the pupils should be examined by health personnel to see how these children are, health wise. This is called a screening process, not COVID related but just a screening process. This is where the anomalies will be identified amongst children. Things like descendant testis. These were things that were identified from these screening processes.
We should emphasise on strengthening our school health programmes. We should continue to focus on physical training, what we used to call PT back in the day, even for us adults. Exercising is an insurance to health. When exercising, you will be paying your health premium. We strongly believe children should continue doing these exercises.
Some of the countries Hon. President, are doing away with pit toilets and we are being left behind. They now expect to see flush toilets. Let us not be afraid, let us not hesitate to say we cannot do it; we can. This is the hygiene we should focus on. We see schools having 15 blair or pit toilets. Let us be innovative around these things and not be left behind. We should fix some of these things.
Mr. President, lastly is the issue of teachers. We need dedicated teachers. We also need to have good conditions of service. In the past, teachers were respected. Professional teachers are so important for our education. With those few words, I would like to thank the Committee that went around the country that encouraged us to look at these development goals and to question ourselves as a country to see where we are. Thank you Mr. President.
HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. President. I would
want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to contribute on this most important debate. I would want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane Khumalo and the Committee for the work that they did. I would want to speak mainly on the issue of quality education as alluded to by Hon.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order. The
Hon. Senator is not connected.
HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU: Thank you once again Mr. President.
I would want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane Khumalo and the Committee for the work that they did with regards to the visits that they had in schools, especially rural schools to ascertain what is happening on the ground. Mr. President, we cannot have a substitute to quality education as previously alluded to by Hon. Members who spoke before me.
For us to achieve our goals as a country, we need to start at the bottom, we need to start with basics. When we are talking about quality education, we need to have a holistic approach when it comes to that subject. It is not possible that we have children graduating at university when we are not able to assist them at primary school. Neither can we expect them to pass at high school when we have not laid the proper foundation. We need to start investing and start attending to the right places when it comes to education.
I want to speak specifically to children between the ages from ECD to Grade 5. If we are to have quality education, these are the times in a child’s life where we need to invest and deploy teachers properly. There is also need for those that implement our policies, to set policies which are clear as to how we should treat the matter of young children from ECD to Grade 5. They have to be attended to by teachers who are able to communicate with learners. Be it in Mutare or Gokwe, the child needs to be able to communicate with their teacher. I need our policy implementers to make sure that it happens if we are to achieve quality education.
In rural schools Mr. President, things are not well. I am not sure in areas where our team went, whether they found out that things are equal. There is a clear divide between urban schools and rural schools. If we were talking about quality education, we are not only talking about children who are attending school at private institutions or urban schools. We are talking also about our children who are in rural schools.
Of the little that I have been exposed to in rural schools, things are not well. We have children who are non-readers and that cannot be said to be delivery of quality services. If a child who is in Grade 7 and they are a non-reader, it becomes problematic. We need to have proper response. We have got to be honest with ourselves and be able to face the enemy in the face to say this is not right and it has to stop, especially when it comes to our children. They are the future. The future of this country has got to be felt around those children that are at primary school. They are the leaders of tomorrow. We have got to make sure we do right by them.
I am happy that the Committee went to rural schools and the response that we got where we are still struggling with issues of provision of sanitation, electricity and many other things, including teachers who do not want to stay in rural areas because the facilities there are quite different from those of their counterparts who work in urban schools, private schools and mission schools. There is a clear divide. At least from what I have been exposed to, I know there is a difference. I am saying, we want our policy implementers to look into these issues and make sure that when we come here in Parliament and debate about them, we are not trying to cover up anything but we want to talk about issues that are prevailing on the ground, issues that affect our children and need to be looked at.
Mr. President, I am actually happy because I bought a newspaper this morning and I saw that our country has been given its portion of what it applied for from the IMF. I saw a statement from the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Amongst issues that he mentioned are issues of health, education, infrastructure development, et cetera. If properly followed, they will improve some of the issues that I am addressing today to say, yes we have had certain gaps but I think we could have done better.
I want to encourage our Government and those that are at district level, that we are not doing lip service. We have to make sure that our children are readers and our children are able to do mathematics. They are able to at least be measured against any other child anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world, to say a child who is in Grade 7, how do they compare with a child who is in Grade 7 at a private school?
I know we cannot have those equal terms but at least there has got to be a certain measure to show that our children are getting quality education. They are our future and we cannot talk about these issues and pretend that everything is equal. We know it is not equal because where I come from, children cannot read. Areas that I visited further down in Ngwaladhi, we have got children who are still attending school under trees. There is not a single classroom – how do we then say there is quality in education when we still have such things that exist? I implore those that are on the ground and Hon. Members of this august House to make sure that when we talk about some of these issues, we have got at least some experience of what is happening on the ground. When we are here in Harare, we forget that there are children that spend the whole day at school who do not have anything to eat. They spend the whole day under a shade of a tree yet we want to talk about quality education – quality education of who exactly if we are excluding those children?
With these few words, I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief
Mtshane and his Committee for bringing this important subject that we really need to look at and we look at it sincerely as to what it is that is happening on the ground. I thank you Mr. President.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Thank you Mr. President, I move that
the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 25th August, 2021.
REPORT OF THE JOINT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON
LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL
HOUSING AND THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON PEACE
AND SECURITY ON THE ASSESSMENT OF PROGRESS
MADE IN AREAS AFFECTED BY FLOODS AND ON
CONSTRUCTION OF COVID 19 TREATMENT,
QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION FACILITIES
Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the assessment of progress on construction of COVID-19 Treatment, Quarantine and
Question again proposed.
HON. SEN. DR. PARIRENYATWA: Mr. President, I move that
the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. DENGA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 25th August, 2021.
On the motion of HON. SEN. MUZENDA seconded by HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI, the Senate adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past
Four o’clock p.m.