The kindergarten is located in one of the poorest communities in Zimbabwe, where 98 percent of the families survive on subsistence farming, or from casual work, which pays a from 20 to 50 USdollars per month.
Children and families in this community walk for more than 13 kilometres every day to get to nearest hospital. Public transportation is non-existent so getting the sick to hospital is a very tall order. When they make it to the hospital, the health facilities have no capacity to care for their patients due to lack of medication, medical equipment and personnel, greatly affecting children and school attendance.
In 2016, about 35 percent of the children at Maizelands kindergarten did not attend the kindergarten regularly due to illness.
Villages engaged the Ministry of Health and Child Care and agreed that a mobile clinic needed to visit the kindergarten once a month, to provide health services to the children at the kindergarten but also to the surrounding community.
These days, all children in the community access health care services every month.
During the health visits, children receive vaccines against polio, rotavirus, pneumococcal, pentavalent and measles rubella. Common diseases that are treated include measles, bilharzia, ringworms, headaches and diarrhoea. Growth monitoring is also done for all children under the age of eight years.
The kindergarten is also part of a school feeding programme, which provides two nutritious meals per day for every child. A nutrition garden, organised by the kindergarten, provides the children with necessary greens and vitamins. The impact of nutritional meals has been visible. Children are now healthy enough to play outdoors, and cases of illness related to malnutrition are no longer prevalent.
Following the health intervention, the kindergarten has recorded increased attendance.
In 2018 85 percent of pupils regularly attended the kindergarten. Community members on their part have reported a decrease in the rate children fall sick, as they are receiving timely immunization and vaccinations.
Thank you Espira for supporting children in Zimbabwe with vital early childhood development and access to health services.