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High maternal mortality, a cause for concern

"The environment is a major contributory factor to an increased maternal mortality rate. A hospital is an engine room and everyone who goes to the hospitals expects to get good services and to have his or her health improved. But at the moment our people go to get frustration which is what we want to rectify,''

Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe

High maternity fees remain a significant barrier to accessing reproductive health for expectant mothers especially those in rural areas, a development that continues to worsen the maternal mortality rate.   It is disheartening to note that the number of women in Zimbabwe dying during delivery has increased from 725 deaths for every 100 000 live births to 960 deaths for every 100 000 live births. This has also been attributed to lack of transport and a critical shortage of midwives in the country's health institutions.

Expectant mothers at rural health centres are charged as much as US$30 for delivery, a figure beyond the reach of many in a country where the majority of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line of USD500.

Although the government has user fee policy allowing for free health services for pregnant women, health services delivery and the overall development of the country remains in limbo as long as the health of our mothers and infants is still in deplorable conditions due to the shortage of midwives in hospitals.

Zimbabwe is one of 58 countries facing a critical shortage of midwives in the world. This was revealed in a global report on the state of midwifery, under which providers offer care to women during pregnancy, labour and birth. According to The State of The World's Midwifery 2011 report, since 1990 the maternity mortality rate had doubled, newly-born deaths had risen due to the lack of midwifery workforce which equals 8 244 midwives inclusive of the nurse-midwives and nurses with midwifery competencies in Zimbabwe.

In her statement on rising maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe, Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe noted that, 'The inability by the majority of our mothers to pay maternity fees contributes to this increase in maternal mortality. As a country, we must strive to attain the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) especially MDG 3,4 & 5, (Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, Reduce Child Mortality and Improve Maternal Health respectively) that are meant to bring about improved conditions for women and children. €

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