You are here

For women working in garment factories in Maputsoe, around 80 kilometers from Lesotho’s capital Maseru, being able to visit a health facility has usually been a rare opportunity. This is sometimes due to fear of losing part of a salary when someone is away from work.

One of the factory workers, ‘Mantina Mphohle (31) is elated that she is unlikely ever to lose part of her salary again because of being on sick leave. ‘Mantina was hit by a car recently and had to be away from work on sick leave for two days. She was not paid for those two days. “You can imagine how disappointed I was when I realized my salary had been cut for the two days that I was away from work,” she says.

She can now access health services outside her factory during the lunch hour. This comes after UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund supported Maputsoe Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Health Facility with a mobile clinic to provide services to factory workers and those queueing for jobs at the factories.

It is for this reason that she was very much elated when she was able to access health services from the mobile clinic, which operates around the factories five days a week.

“I am very happy that I will now get the services free of charge from outside my work place,” she says.

Also ecstatic was 18 year old Kholu Jonathan who was queuing for a job at the factories. “The mobile clinic is very helpful to us, especially since we are not employed yet,” she states.

Also showing the important role played by the mobile clinic, the Head of Maputsoe SDA clinic Mrs ‘Makhabisi Polane recalls the time when she had to deliver a baby whose mother had never visited a health facility during pregnancy; “There was no clinic, no baby clothes, nothing. The mother said at the factory where she worked, they were not allowed time to go to a clinic.”

The mobile clinic addresses this kind of problem as it offers a sexual and reproductive health services package which include family planning, Ante Natal Clinic, condom distribution, HIV testing as well as prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

Mrs Polane says workers from 22 factories as well as those queuing for jobs and the nearby community are served by the mobile clinic.

She believes the mobile clinic will benefit the factory workers who work long hours and hardly ever get time to visit a clinic.

In the same breath, UNFPA Representative Mrs Therese Zeba Kobeane said Lesotho’s textile and garment industry employed a significant proportion of Lesotho’s population and about 80 percent of this population is women.

She noted with concern that access to healthcare by these factory workers, especially women is still a big challenge. Their healthcare needs include but are not limited to antenatal care, referrals for delivery, postnatal care, and management of STIs and availability of FP services including condoms.

She stated that it is for this reasons that UNFPA and UNAIDS with support from the European Union and the Governments of Sweden and Norway under Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV Linkages project procured the mobile clinic to support Maputsoe factory workers.

“We have realised that Maputsoe industrial area is very populated with about 22 factories and there is a lack of health services provided in this area. The mobile clinic provides workers with services on daily basis delivering a package of SRH and HIV services,” she pointed out.  

The mobile clinic is a client oriented strategy which aim to make quality integrated health service closer to the beneficiaries developed under the Joint UNFPA/UNAIDS SRH/HIV prevention services linkages programme through the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV Linkages project which is funded by the European Union, the Governments of Sweden and Norway and coordinated by UNFPA. The purpose of this partnership is to respond to the needs of a number of women working in garment factory whose access to quality Sexual, reproductive health and HIV prevention service is limited.

The mobile clinic operates around the Maputsoe factories five days a week. Hopefully, due to the mobile clinic, no woman shall ever have to lose a day’s salary because of having to visit a health facility.