Epworth clinics are failing to provide adequate medical services for the more than 170,000 residents in the area. This has meant many patients from the satellite town are forced to travel to Harare to avoid long queues and insufferable delays.
The Epworth Local Board has two clinics at Domboramwari and Overspill but due to the high demand for medical care, residents have found Harare clinics to be more user-friendly and convenient. Braeside Clinic, which is easily accessible for Epworth residents, has been the most affected. A recent visit by Harare News revealed that the majority of the patients waiting for treatment at Braeside Clinic were from Epworth.
“Some of the patients use local addresses from Braeside, Cranborne, Queensdale and Chadcombe to avoid being referred back to Epworth clinics,” confirmed a nurse at Braeside Clinic, who declined to be named.
Martha Mapiye, a patient from Epworth seeking medical attention at Braeside Clinic revealed to Harare News that she opts for Harare clinics because of the long queues at Overspill and Domboramwari. “It takes you the whole day to get medical assistance at Epworth clinics, but here it’s faster and more efficient,” said Mapiye.
Irene Mlambo, a pregnant woman who uses Braeside Clinic for her routine maternity checkups, concurs. “Epworth clinics are conveniently situated for Epworth residents and this means that that there are a large number of patients seeking medical attention on any given day. It’s difficult to get assistance because you have to spend the whole day there,” said Mlambo.
Another surprising reason Epworth residents favour Harare clinics is because Epworth has a high rate of sexually transmitted infections. This has led to some residents shunning treatment at their local clinic for fear that the whole neighbourhood will find out about their medical condition. “If you are diagnosed with an STI, you may end up hearing people talking about it. I personally know certain people whose HIV status became the subject of discussion in Epworth, so I feel safer if I travel further away where people don’t know me,” said Mlambo.
It has also been reported that Epworth clinics are charging a maternity fee of $30 which is against government policy that all child-related care at government hospitals is free.
Harare City Director of Health, Dr Prosper Chonzi, confirmed that many Epworth residents were seeking medical care at Hatfield and Braeside clinics. He said that there are certain services that are not offered in Epworth so patients are forced to visit other clinics in Harare, but now people are seeking treatment at Harare clinics regardless of their needs. Dr Chonzi added that as a result, they have increased the number of staff at the clinics that are frequented by Epworth residents to ensure efficiency.
Image: Overspill Clinic was meant to support Epworth’s Domboramwari Clinic, but has also become too crowded.