Khayelitsha residents and health officials have given the upgrade of the maternal and child health unit, at Michael Mapongwana Community Day Centre, in Harare, the thumbs up.
The upgrade was undertaken in response to cries from the public, and facility staff and management for solutions to their service delivery challenges.
The R7 million facility, which opened its doors to the public in December last year, will ensure that pregnant women will no longer need to stand in long queues and will ensure the safe delivery of babies.
In the past, pregnant women had to deliver their babies in congested spaces with no privacy, prompting various advocacy groups to intervene.
Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said about 250 women gave birth at the facility every month.
“We are responsible for health services but we cannot do it alone. Health is everybody’s business. But to achieve all our goals we need dedicated staff.
“We also need our staff to use the three Hs: head, hands and heart. By having a good heart one would able to use the head and hands wisely,” she said.
Dr Mbombo appealed to mothers to make sure that their children were well developed during their early years.
“The first 1 000 days after birth are very important for the child’s development. We all have to make these walls a home. In the first unit mothers and children were squashed. But here we also have rooms for consultation. That means mothers have a chance to go one on one with nurses. They also have privacy which was not there,” she said.
Khayelitsha Health Forum chairperson Mzanywa Ndibongo expressed his happiness about the new unit, saying he had hoped to see the family of the late Mr Mapongwana, for whom the facility is named, present at the event. He said the family should see the work done by Mr Mapongwana is still continuing. He thanked Dr Mbombo for delivering on her promise.
An ecstatic Asavela Bunu said she had had a terrible experience at the old unit. “The space was small and we had to queue outside, even on rainy days. I can safely say we are now safe and protected,” she said.
The new unit means victory to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and others.
Michael Hamnca, from the TAC, said after two years of struggle, they were happy that a new unit was built.
“Our children were born outside. In winter mothers had to get cold outside. Now they will be treated with dignity. This is a victory for our people,” he said.