CHAIRPERSON of Zimbabwe’s child parliamentary committee on health and child welfare Rukudzo Nyoka yesterday told the august House that lack of water and proper ablution facilities at schools was exposing most children to diseases.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
The child parliamentarians and members of the Zimbabwe Youth Council made the remarks when they appeared before the senior Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care and the senior Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education to submit reports on health and education issues affecting children.
Nyoka said some children in rural areas had to travel 22 kilometres to access health facilities, while in urban set-ups children were also exposed to cholera and waterborne diseases as a result of local authorities’ failure to provide regular water supplies.
“Children experience problems such as inadequate water and toilet facilities at schools, clinics and whenever boreholes are available, they are often broken down,” Nyoka said.
“In Zaka, our research revealed that children walked between 17 and 22 kilometres in search of clinics and water and most of the time patients are referred to urban hospitals due to shortages of medicines and equipment at rural hospitals,” she said.
Nyoka said government should provide water in Mabvuku and Tafara suburbs in Harare, adding at Ntembe Secondary School in Gwanda, their research revealed 700 pupils were sharing seven blair toilets, which was unhealthy.
Gutu Central child MP Tendai Yeukai Mukore said there was need for government and local authorities to test borehole water because some of it was contaminated, exposing children to diseases.
Mbire child MP Isheanesu Mutandwa said most boreholes sunk in his constituency were non-functional.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care Ruth Labode said access to clean and tested water was imperative, adding girls were the worst affected as they failed to attend school due to lack of sanitary pads and water to clean themselves when going through their menstrual cycles.
“When we were growing up, we never used to be provided with sanitary pads. It was not a nice experience, but we improvised and survived,” Labode said.
Chinhoyi MP Peter Mataruse encouraged school children to embrace the use of recyclable sanitary pads, saying they were cheaper.
Unicef health specialist in the department of maternal, neonatal and child health Tasha Nyamutamba confirmed some girls missed school due to lack of water and sanitary wear during their menstrual cycle.