May, 2013. Zimbabwe. Juliet Waterkeyn
Community Health Clubs were first established in Zimbabwe in 1994, when the present Director of Zim AHEAD pioneered this approach in Manicaland. Although CHCs have been trickling along since then through various NGO initiatives, it has not been fully institutionalised into the government system, which for the past 13 years has been run into the ground, unable to implement directly due to lack of funding. It has taken a long time for the success of the Community Health Club Model in Zimbabwe to be recognised by the Government of the country for the cost effective prgramme that it is. Perhaps as they say of religion, ‘A prophet is never recognised in his own town’!
It has taken the threat of the high-jacking of the CHC methodology by Rwanda to open the eyes of the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health as to how this approach can be taken to scale countrywide by putting it into policy. The President of Rwanda, the Honorable Paul Kagame, saw the efficacy of such a system of organisation and in his Presidential Initiative in 2010 called for a CHC to be established in everyone of the 15,000 villages in his country. We have been hoping for some time, for the same break though in Zimbabwe, as when directives come from above it is amazing how fast people react!
It is therefore with great pleasure that we find in the Water Policy, recently issued in March 2013, that the CHCs are now firmly on the agenda.
National Water Policy: March 2013: 7.5.6 (vii)
“Every Village and rural institution will have a functional health club.
Every water point will have a functional water point committee.
PHHE will be led by MoHCW and implemented collaboratively with all relevant development partners.”
Putting policy into practice this week, the Head of Environmental Health Department in the Ministry of Health presented a government proposal which charts a one year roll out of training across the 8 Provinces and 62 districts of Zimbabwe. If this is supported as hoped it will enable the country to meet the MDG targets for water and sanitation by the year 2015.