BARRIERS TO ACCESSING HEALTH CARE & CAC SERVICES
Access to quality health care is not only important to the recipients, but also critical to the health of the country and overall sustainable development. The government of the Republic of Zambia is cognisant of the reality that women who die from pregnancy-related problems compound not only a heavy burden on family members, but also on the development agenda of the country. It is from this perspective that the government has instituted several mitigating interventions designed at improving health of women and girls, particularly in rural areas.
However, despite these measures, woman continue to face challenges accessing quality health services, especially relating to sexual reproductive health and Comprehensive Abortion Care. According to stakeholders ZAGO has been working with in pursuit to preventing unsafe abortions and safe lives, most women and adolescent girls are forced to using unsafe methods because of the following reasons:
- Traditional/Cultural beliefs: the conservative nature of the Zambian society where Sexual talk and conversations around abortion cannot be discussed in the open are increasingly forcing women and girls to seek unsafe ways to terminate pregnancies
- Religious beliefs: some religious faiths do not even allow congregants to use contraceptives. This being the case, when one falls pregnancy which is unplanned, they are forced to seek unsafe abortion for fear of stigmatisation by fellow church members
- Rude attitude by health workers: depending on how a patient is received by the health provider can encourage or discourage a patient from accessing legal and safe services. Some CAC providers, for example, have been accused of instigating stigma to those in dire need of the service
- Skilled personnel: lack of qualified personnel puts off women and girls, who end up in the hands of illegal providers such as witchdoctors
- Lack of sensitisation/awareness: most people do not know the legality of abortion in the country; therefore, ZAGO was urged to provide sensitisation across the board, including among the Church and traditional leadership
- Lack of Child-Parent Sex education: most parents do not discuss sex with their children due to cultural dogma , and this therefore leads to young people resorting to deadly unsafe methods
- Medical supplies: inadequate surgical medical supplies in some clinics/hospitals, force people to go to witchdoctors for herb medications as last resort
- User fees: certain clinics still charge user fees despite government having abolished, which consequently force women and girls to resorting to illegal abortion
- Transport costs: due to long distances to access safe abortion services from designated hospitals, most women and girls particularly in rural areas do not have the means
- Inadequate infrastructure: lack ofprivacy spaces scares women and girls from procuring abortion services in health facilities
- Availability of cheap methods: most cheap but unsafe methods are readily available within communities. The availability of cheap bur unsafe methods compel most women and young girls to procure such services at the expense of their health
- Lack of privacy spaces in health facilities: most women and adolescent girls feel uneasy discussing safe abortion in health facilities; and instead are comfortable visiting a witchdoctor/bana Chimbusa as they can accord them needed privacy and confidentiality
It is for this reason that ZAGO with its partners are working around the clock to unblock these barriers so that women and girls can realise and attain highest Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR. SRHR are human rights and ZAGO is determined that now was the time women and girls achieved full realisation of their potential.