Tariro Clinic a Satellite for Hope
Set in the heart of Harare South’s Hopely high-density suburb is the Tariro clinic. The satellite clinic is run by Harare City Council and serves a population of about 60 000 in the suburb.
Hopley is a suburb created in the aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina, a campaign to remove illegal urban settlements and informal markets in 2005 as a transit center for those who lost their homes during the operation. The suburb has since moved from being a holding camp with minimal facilities to a fully-fledged residential area. The growth Hopely has experienced comes with the growing pains of all low-income, less privileged neighborhoods. The risk of adolescent health challenges is high. Exposure to sexual activity at a young age, gender-based violence, and general crime all feature in the challenges faced by women and young people in this community.
Tariro Satellite Clinic, stands for what its name implies, “hope”. The clinic has shone like a beacon through its integrated approach to the challenges facing residents of this community. The clinic brings hope to about 250 to 300 patients a day through various treatments. Speaking to journalists who were on a media tour led by Media Monitors Zimbabwe, Sr Sarah Mungate who is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the clinic said that the clinic is always busy with the treatment of minor illnesses, antenatal services, family planning, and growth monitoring for children who need vaccinations and weighing on a monthly basis.
Sr Mungate explained that the demand for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services in the clinic were very high and that most people who sought the services are young women since they have better health-seeking behaviour.
The clinic also offers counseling services for young mothers living with HIV; this work is done through collaborative help from local people who run the Young Mother Mentor program which offers a safe space for young mothers living with HIV. The counselors are all volunteers who themselves are living with HIV. The volunteers believe that they are best suited to teach fellow women who are in the same situation as theirs.
The mentorship program has become a beacon of hope and light in the vulnerable community since 2019. “The Young Mentor Mothers program started in 2019 and currently has 74 women in the program. We deal with ages from 0 to 24 years old and sometimes we get 14year olds becoming mothers, so we urge them to get tested first and if they are found positive we then start explaining to them step by step so they can understand that being HIV positive is not a death sentence” explained one of the volunteer counselors.
Tariro Clinic embodies a bold new approach to health, particularly in the area of SRHR, where treatment now goes beyond the clinical. With the involvement of cooperation partners, Tariro Clinic offers clinical support and complements it with awareness-raising, knowledge sharing, and social and emotional support, an approach with is clearly reaping dividends. People are visiting the clinic from outside Hopley, in search of the services it offers.
The journalists’ visit to Hopely Clinic allowed the media to see a part of Hopley that is rarely shared. It also allowed the media an opportunity to appreciate and share a direction that could be replicated as a model for the management of SRHR that could help society overcome stigma and discrimination. The visit was part of the 2gether 4SRHR Integrated SRH/HIV/GBV Programme.
This Joint United Nations program is being implemented in 10 countries in East and Southern Africa including Zimbabwe, funded by the Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right Team of the Government of Sweden.
In Zimbabwe, the country program design brings together the collective and combined strengths of four United Nations agencies and entities (UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO) to provide support to the Government of Zimbabwe, civil society, and communities.
It is hard to imagine that the ground on which the clinic sits was once a sea of tents on muddy ground. Since the official opening by President E.D Mnangagwa in 2019, Tariro clinic is shining a light of hope for the future of healthcare in this community.