Compiled by Eunica Pabwaungana of Shurugwi Community Development Trust (SCDT)
Unki is a well-known mining company in Zimbabwe which legally extracts platinum and other group of metals. The mine is located in Shurugwi district and ward 19 is the host community. Apart from Unki mine in Shurugwi, there are also Small-Scale Miners (SSM) and Artisanal Small-Scale Miners (ASSM) who are highly contributing to the country ‘s economy by extracting gold and chrome ores. Mineral resources bring developments not only in Shurugwi District but nationwide. As mining activities are undertaken there can be disease outbreaks within the community and the best solution of preventing the outbreak will be joining hands with stakeholders in different sectors.
On Thursday ,26 August 2021 local Village Health workers, Unki Social performance manager Mrs Mawimba and her delegation sat down at Unki sport ground to discuss on how they are going to curb diseases. Their aim was to preserve life by preventing the situation from becoming worse. The Environmental Health Technician (EHT) was also part of the team.
After some introductions Mrs Mawimba asked VHWs to explain their role in the community and the following points came to light.
1. To provide health education within the community and at all gatherings if time allows.
2.Link between the Community and Health providers by reporting any problem relating to health issues
and encouraging pregnant mothers to make early maternity bookings.
3.Encouraging patients on drug adherence, prevention and control of communicable diseases and identification of those at risk ( eg) , women and child headed families , orphans , those on chronic conditions , chidren under malnourished etc.
4.Treatment of minor ailments, assessing the community and growth monitoring on children under five years of age.
5.Encouraging the community to comply to World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid 19 regulations especially in this Covid_19 era and follow up positive patients.
6.Compiling data,keeping registers and records while maintaining confidentiality .
Mine members expressed gratitude on the role undertaken by VHWs in the community .
Following the statistics from the local clinic staff Mr’s Mawimba highlighted the diseases according to their frequence order as ;
1, Covid _19 _ both sex
2, Bilharzia __boys from four to twenty yrs of age
3, Diarrhoea__ both sex
4, BP/ Hypertension __Women
5, Tuberculosis __ both sex
6, Sexual Transimitted diseases __ both sex
7, Pneumonia __Children under five yrs
8, Tonsels__ both sex
No history of HIV/ AIDS infected babies
Possible root causes of diseases and preventive measures
1, Covid _19 mainly caused by mixing of community with those from different working places like mines and can be prevented by removing work clothes outside the house before contacting family members. Also, everyone to follow all health guidelines .
2, Bilharzia commonly caused by swimming or playing in stagnant waters can be prevented encouraging young children not to swim or play in stagnant waters and visiting the clinic for treatment when infected.
3, Diarrhoea mostly results from improper disposal of dirty and lack of toilets in some households, drinking from unprotected water sources and taking of cold foods. Diarrhoea can be prevented by drinking from protected water sources, taking food while still hot and proper disposal of waste.
4, Hypertension / BP mostly caused by poverty, Gender based violence, Overworking and lack of exercises. Hypertension can be reduced by having self-sustaining projects, support groups for counselling, exercise to control overweight and should minimise overstraining work.
5, Tuberculosis is often caused by dusty environments, untidy rooms and poor ventilation. TB can be prevented by good ventilation and avoiding dusty environments.
6, STIs are usually by multiple partners and can be prevented by use of protectives during sex, abstinence and sticking to one faithful partner. STIs should be treated during early stages.
7, Pneumonia results from carelessness in childcare
and lack of warm clothes and exposure to cold.
Improved childcare, warm clothes and avoiding cold foods can prevent both pneumonia and tonsillitis.
Unki mine to work together with VHWs in the health sector to reduce diseases.