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Corruption Hampering Access to Maternal Health

Corruption Hampering Access to Maternal Health

1 in 5 women die from child birth in Zimbabwe; this is according to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. The ministry also expressed concern over the rising maternal deaths recorded in various parts of the country . Latest statistics from the ministry indicates that at least one woman dies during childbirth every day. These circumstances puts Zimbabwe to be among 40 countries where the maternal death rate exceeds 525 per 100,000 live births. It is worth noting that the situation is not improving: during the last five years, maternal mortality in Zimbabwe has failed to reach the anticipated 130 in every 100 000 births as is the case in neighboring Zambia.Despite the adoption of the 2012 government policy scrapping maternity fees, access to proper maternal health for expectant mothers is still being hampered by several issues such as poor and inconvenient public transport system, and indirect user fees that are being charged for maternity services. However, whats worrying about the plight of expectant mothers to access proper maternal services is the levels of systemic corruption that has reached the health care system.

 

Despite the adoption of the 2012 government policy scrapping maternity fees, access to proper maternal health for expectant mothers is still being hampered by several issues such as poor and inconvenient public transport system, and indirect user fees that are being charged for maternity services. However, whats worrying about the plight of expectant mothers to access proper maternal services is the levels of systemic corruption that has reached the health care system.

 

At a Women’s Community Dialogue on Maternal Health held in Epworth by Transparency International Zimbabwe, it was reported that the local clinic was charging expectant mothers fees for material used for baby delivery. These include cotton, gloves, cord clamp, surgical blades and disposable bags. The extra fee is often not receipted and is determined by the nurses in charge of the procedure. This is despite the pregnant mothers having paid the required $152 maternity fee pegged by the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. Mothers also reported that they were being made to bribe health workers at the local clinic in cases where they delay booking for maternity care 6 months into their pregnancy.

 

Many pregnant women have therefore been scared away from public hospitals and clinics, often risking their lives in the hands of unskilled midwives or conservative apostolic sects. The situation is especially bad for poor women in high-density suburbs like Epworth, Hopley and Hatcliffe who continue to experience difficulties in accessing quality obstetric care. The poor state of the economy has worsened the plight facing mothers-to-be, as income is hard to come by.

 

TI-Z believes that there is a dearth of information relating to contributory effects of corruption on maternal health and this has limited policy responses to this issue. It is recommended that the government need to fully commit itself to the Abuja Declaration that requires the State to spend at least 15 percent of its budget on health. It is also imperative for the health authorities to enhance sexual and reproductive health rights education to ensure that expectant mothers demand and, are afforded quality maternal health care. Staff shortages which also promote corruption should be alleviated through training more midwives and paying them a decent wage to prevent the brain drain.