For many years most rural communities in Masvingo continue to be faced with the task of having to travel to Masvingo General Hospital for referrals, and this is taxing considering their limited income.

Villagers from Zaka say capacitating rural clinics would be one way of ensuring that some health cases are dealt with at a local level, easing the burden for the villagers.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care met Zaka villagers at Jerera Growth Point for the 2019 budget consultations.

The villagers raised a number of key issues that continue to affect the health sector and need to be addressed. They highlighted that most of the rural clinics hardly have basic medication or equipment to use, noting this as the reason why they continue to be referred to Masvingo General Hospital.

The villagers say the budget should therefore have provisions for capacitating rural clinics.

“We are always referred to Masvingo hospital which is far away and it costs us more to go there. We are appeal to the authorities to capacitate our local clinics. There are no ambulances, sometimes when a patient is referred to Masvingo we have to look for our own transport,” said one villager.

Others villagers felt the health care sector should also be given preference for more funding to ensure the country does not rely on the donor community for drugs.

Apart from the budget allocation requirements, the villagers also told the committee that Jerera Growth Point is operating without a  legal dumpsite which has resulted in waste being dumped in open spaces.

The Rural District Council is alleged to be failing to pay the environmental impact assessment fee to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and this is hindering their quest to secure a proper dumpsite.

As a result, the rural council continues to be fined by EMA on a regular basis.

The situation is exposing villagers to diseases due to open space dumping of waste.

Cde Mathius Tongofa who was chairing the public hearings, said the issues raised will be presented to parliament.

The pharmacies at the growth point like other pharmacies in Masvingo province are also now demanding foreign currency for drugs which most of the villagers do not have.

The villagers believe if their local clinics were well stocked, they would not be caught up in the current predicament.