Access to Care in Zimbabwe

Although no one could have anticipated the impacts of COVID-19, the foresight, diligence, and leadership of the team at Karanda Mission Hospital in northern Zimbabwe have had a profoundly positive effect on their community at large.

By Marina Mendizabal

 A group of pregnant women receive bottles of Vitamin Angels' vitamins and minerals and health education on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy.

Located over 150 miles from a major city, Karanda Mission Hospital sits at the heart of various Zimbabwe communities near the town of Mount Darwin.

"Our hospital work has remained open during the second surge of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe…” reported Dr. Paul Thistle, Medical Director at Karanda Mission Hospital.

As many are aware, a crisis like COVID-19 has significantly impacted those living in communities who are experiencing marginalization. The longer families go without access to proper nutrition and health services, the greater the risk of malnutrition and health consequences, especially for pregnant women and children.

For the remote communities in northern Zimbabwe scattered around Mount Darwin, transportation is one of the most common barriers families face when it comes to accessing health care. Even as hospitals in the city remained open, access to care became an even greater challenge for many families living in remote terrain as the country’s services and resources varied and slowed. However, Karanda Mission Hospital thoughtfully positioned nearby these communities were in a prime position of service.

During a follow-up visit at the ANC, an expecting mother collects a new bottle of Vitamin Angels' prenatal vitamins and minerals from a Nurse Aid. The mom-to-be indicated that she has gained weight and feels healthy as a result of taking the prenatals.

Although many repercussions of COVID-19 could have never been anticipated, the foresight and diligence of the hospital team and leadership have had profound positive implications for pregnant women, children, and the community at large.

"We were being proactive given the COVID-19 induced delays in receiving the reports from our district government clinics and the slowdown in international transport and customs clearance," Dr. Thistle shared. Essential hospital’s services continued, including providing access to prenatal vitamins and minerals for pregnant women and distributing Vitamin A for children – two essential nutrition interventions for two populations who have been at the greatest risk of malnutrition during the pandemic.

The seasoned sixty-year-old hospital attends to over 70,000 outpatients and performs 4,000 surgeries annually, in addition to distributing Vitamin Angels nutrition interventions. Their care for their community is mirrored in their staff training programs, offering nursing and midwifery students opportunities at their hospital.

Partners like Karanda Mission Hospital are helping overcome barriers to access and bringing a healthier world into being. Vitamin Angels is proud to work alongside such an astounding institution. 


Photos Courtesy: Karanda Mission Hospital

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