Globally, the eminence of women’s health falls short of its prospective. The implications of this deficit as well as the undesirable economic impact is consequential as health is a driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Sustainable Development Goal number one speaks about the need to alleviate poverty in all its forms. Healthier women are more productive and will contribute towards attaining SDG1. Health is therefore tied to long term productivity and the nation’s economic performance.
This can be achieved by ensuring that women have access to inclusive health care. Sexual and gender based violence has no place in society.
Women’s sexual health rights must also be protected.
In addition, family planning initiatives must be encouraged while child marriages and adolescent pregnancies are discouraged. Early marriages are linked to maternal deaths due to complications that may arise during pregnancy and childbirth.
Building educated societies will empower the women with the knowledge on the aforementioned issues and many more.
Chapter Two Section 17 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution seeks to address gender imbalances and promote women’s rights by ensuring that they have access to national resources, including health care facilities.
Section 29 ensures the provision of basic and adequate health service throughout the country, adding that no one should be refused emergency medical treatment at any institution.
Unfortunately, some health facilities still demand payment upfront, even during emergency situations.
Considering that women form the bigger chunk of the global population, their health should be louder than economics and politics.
This is particularly important as common health problems such as reproductive tract infections mostly affect women, hence the need to invest more in their health.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for significant morbidity and high medical costs among women.
Women’s life time risk of contracting UTIs is higher than 50 percent.
To reduce its public health burden, there is need to address the prevention and management of UTIs.
Dr Misheck Ruwende said investment in women’s health is crucial.
“Women are more prone to UTIs because of their shorter urethra which makes it easier for the infection to move into the bladder. Pregnant women are also at risk of developing UTIs that are asymptomatic.
“UTIs can result in serious complications if the bacteria travels to the kidneys.
“Not drinking enough fluids can increase the risk by reducing the amount of urination, which is supposed to help wash bacteria from the urinary tract,” said Dr Ruwende.
He said symptoms of UTIs include pain or a burning sensation during urination, the need to urinate frequently, bloody urine, cloudy urine, foul smelling urine, a fever, nausea and general body aches, as well as tenderness in the pelvic area.
If left untreated, a UTI can result in pre-term labour.
“UTI can be diagnosed through laboratory testing of urine samples. Further testing can be done to determine the underlying causes,” said Dr Ruwende.
Treatment is usually done through the use of antibiotics.
“It is important for patients to finish the course because symptoms usually diminish before the course is finished but that doesn’t mean the infection would have been completely cleared.
“It is also important to drink lots of fluids, particularly water,” said Dr Ruwende.
On the other hand, the Covid-19 global pandemic has also placed a heavy burden on women’s maternal health care and girls’ health as more resources are being channelled towards the pandemic at the expense of other health conditions.
Women’s Rights and Economic Justice programmes manager Action Aid Zimbabwe Ms Rumbidzayi Makoni said it is important to protect and uphold the rights of women and girls by putting all-inclusive mechanisms that promote their quality health.
The mechanisms will also address abuse and discrimination against women and girls.
“There is need for adequate supply of water. Climate change and the resulting poor rains is forcing women to spend more time looking for water.
“The shortage of water is a cause of concern as it threatens the women’s health.
“In addition, much of the unpaid care work is done by women and girls. There should be more investments in the public health delivery system. Medication should also be affordable to create women’s sustainable well-being,” said Ms Makoni.