Funded by Centre for Disease Control, the project aims to contribute towards an increase in the uptake of quality services by key populations defined here as people living with HIV, sex workers, displaced populations and young people under age 25. The Coalition for Effective Community Health and HIV Response, Leadership and Accountability (CECHLA) project is working with various community based organizations in Harare, Makonde rural, Kadoma, Chegutu, Marondera, Mutare rural, and Norton districts in Zimbabwe. In 2015, a total of 7 841 (4 459 females and 3 382 males) priority population were reached with a standardized HIV prevention package. The project also utilized the Join-In-Circuit (JIC) on HIV, Love and Sexuality tool to reach to 203 female sex workers. The CECHLA project managed to train consortium members on Health and HIV related issues affecting key and vulnerable populations. Of special note was the training of 50 media practitioners on Health and HIV advocacy issues and accurate reporting.
Objectives of the CECHLA project
- To increase the accountability and transparency of Zimbabwe’s national commitments towards HIV and other health issues related to key populations.
- To reduce legal, policy and structural barriers that impedes efficient health service delivery and access by key populations.
- To reduce stigma and discrimination for key populations and other vulnerable groups through community advocacy.
- To capacitate Civil Society Organizations, to effectively advocate for improved access to and provision of quality health services for key populations and other vulnerable groups.
Katswe Sisterhood Case Study
GOAL: Increasing access & uptake of Quality Health and HIV services by key and vulnerable populations
Access to health was increasingly becoming a nightmare. This was as a result of health workers’ negative attitudes towards patients. As a result, the majority of local people who stay in Hopley were shunning health services at this local clinic and preferred to incur transport cost going to other clinics situated in other suburbs where they could access quality health services. One of the worst incident of negative attitude and behavior towards patients is when the clerk at Hopley clinic shouted at patients and started poking one of a female patient with a pen. This resulted in a fist fight between the clerk and the female patient named Tracy (not real name). This precedence resulted in many locals shunning the health services at this clinic. The absence of functional Health Centre Committee (HCC) to address this gap also worsened the challenge.
Katswe Sistahood through the CECHLA grant intervened by reviving and strengthening the HCC. Several complaints had been raised about the clerk’s attitude towards patients. The HCC handled the case and eventually the clerk was transferred from the clinic. There has been no other reports as yet on the patients being treated harshly by nurses at the clinic. To date, some of the health related issues affecting Hopley community are now being jointly solved by the community and health workers through HCC meetings which are held monthly.
”It was hard for us to go and be treated at the local clinic because the clerk was very rude. I am now glad that she is no longer there and the remaining health workers are treating us well and are sensitive to our vulnerability. The majority of the locals are now accessing health services at the local clinic as opposed to previously when we dreaded going to our local clinic” – Tracy (Hopley)
The HCC helped bring about the change at the clinic as they were able to address the challenge faced by the clinic staff of being rude to patients. This can be attributed to the platforms created by the CECHLA intervention to let people know about the HCC and its role in improving the quality of health service delivery at the clinic. In addition, there is increased number of local Hopley residents who are now accessing health services at clinic as compared to previous period.
The current strategy for the Nyanga Local Rights Program was developed in 2014 through consultative meetings with community members focusing on reduction of identified challenges which were gender based violence, teenage pregnancies and child marriages. The program is funded by ACTIONAID INTERNATIONAL ZIMBABWE (AAIZ) targeting women, girls, men, boys and traditional leaders in wards 4, 6, 7, 15, 19, 21, 22, 23, 27 and 29 of Nyanga District. The goal is to improve quality of life for women and girls in Nyanga through reduction of GBV and improving access to sexual reproductive health services. In 2015, the program reached 1 699 rights holders with various trainings and services like, effects of child marriages, legal instruments and reporting cases of GBV and child marriages. The program availed a contingency fund to assist survivors of GBV to access health and legal services. In 2015, ten (10) survivors of GBV were assisted to access health and legal services using the fund.
Apostolic leader reformed –Now against child marriage
The apostolic sect is a religious sect mostly known of its human rights violation practices. It promotes child marriages and deprives mostly girls of their right to education by giving them into marriages at a very young age. The sect gives girls as young as age 13 or below into marriage. This subject girls to GBV such as sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence due to their tender ages. Many girls drop out of school to become young mothers and reports from communities have shown that some girls die during delivery.
Nyanga Local Rights Program conducted Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)training with church leaders in 2015 aimed at reducing child marriages and teenage pregnancies. An apostolic sect leader who attended the CSE training changed his negative attitude towards that of educating his daughters. He also changed his beliefof giving his daughters into marriage at a young age. Before the training, he made his 3 daughters to drop out of school and was in a process of organising their marriages. Soon after the training he confessed that he was unaware he was violating his children’s rights and promised to send them back to school.
His three daughters whom he was in the process of giving into marriage, Ensiara, Yvonet and Tabithas(not real names)are now going to school at Nyangani High School in Nyanga. He supported them into getting help from Campaign for Female Education (Camfed); an organization that is now paying school fees for his 3 daughters. Right now the three girls are in Form 2 at Nyangani High School. The apostolic leader influenced his brother who was also in the habit of marrying his young girls to desist from the practice and value his children’s life and education.
The apostolic leader also gained knowledge on child rights and he is now holding community meetings on Saturdays educating other community members on child rights and the importance of child protection and education. The three girls now feel safe as their father is now friendly to them and provides them all the support they need. He now protects his daughters from men who wanted to marry and abuse his children. Said one of the girls:
“My father is now very close to me and he is like a friend to me. He takes time to be with me and listens to me when I have issues to discuss with him. It is surprising how changed he is since he was trained by FACT. When I ask for school stationery he buys just in time unlike before when he asked us to leave school and get married.”