Navigating Urban Upbringing, Rural Realities, and Healthcare

As Women’s Month unfolds, I find myself reflecting on the journey that has brought me from the bustling streets of the city to the tranquil landscapes of rural areas, and back to the city. The vibrant urban atmosphere that I grew up in, with its skyscrapers and neon lights, helped to establish my outlook on life. But it was my brief stay and frequent visits to rural areas that made the link between urban upbringing, healthcare, and women’s empowerment clear.

Cities often serve as a starting point for hopes and aspirations due to their fast-paced lifestyles and variety of opportunities. I, too, have reaped the rewards of the abundant educational and professional opportunities that urban living affords. The city’s unrelenting energy shapes us and instils traits like resiliency, adaptability, and tenacity. But it’s important to remember the difficulties that still exist, particularly for women in rural and urban areas.

Life beats to a different rhythm in rural areas. The tranquil beauty of nature can conceal the healthcare disparities that affect these areas. 

We frequently take for granted how simple it is to get to healthcare services in cities. However, even the most basic medical care may be miles away in rural areas. Rural communities struggle to get timely medical care because of a lack of medical infrastructure and the long travel times to clinics.

In the heart of a rural area in Limpopo, a young woman’s determination to prioritize her health shines as a beacon of resilience. Keletso Mashaba, who, despite the odds stacked against her, walks long distances to access healthcare due to the lack of transportation options in her area.

“The only taxi available is the one that takes you to town, if you don’t have a car then you have to walk. You don’t have much of a choice. I take contraceptives, which means I must collect them form the clinic monthly, so I must walk there every month. If you are lucky, then you can get a lift back.”

Her story illuminates the challenges faced by many women in similar circumstances and underscores the urgent need for improved accessibility to medical services in rural areas.

I recall a time when my family and I were in a rural area, and my brother got ill. We had to embark on a long journey to reach a health facility. Upon arrival, we were informed that the medicine he needed was unavailable, and that the only option was to administer allergex.

The lack of well-equipped medical facilities and skilled healthcare professionals makes routine medical attention a struggle for rural women. Maternal healthcare, in particular, emerges as a critical issue. Women in rural areas face challenges from limited prenatal care to difficulties in accessing emergency services during childbirth. These disparities contribute to higher maternal mortality rates and hinder the progress of women in rural communities.

Khutso Mabuela, from Limpopo explained the difficulties that she faced when it was time for her to give birth. She mentioned that transport was her biggest difficulty, it was hard for her to get to a healthcare facility, and it still is.

According to her, “Transportation is great concern due to the hospital’s distance. Public transportation is restricted, and other options are exceedingly costly.”

“When it was time for me to give birth, I had to hire a car to get to the hospital. That was very expensive for me.”

Khutso says that more hospitals should be built in rural areas or at least quick public ambulances should be organised.

However, amidst these challenges, there is a silver lining. Women in rural communities are resilient. They step up and take their kids and loved ones to the healthcare facilities, even though they are far.

Having lived in both the rural and urban areas has deepened my understanding of the diverse challenges women face and the importance of equitable healthcare access. It is important that each and every person, no matter where they come from, to have quality healthcare services.