By Alois Vinga
THE city of Bulawayo recorded 70 home-based births amid calls for authorities to reconsider the state of maternal health in the country urgently, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) revealed.
In a brief update titled Maternal Health: A threat to Human Capital Development the civil society grouping blamed the crumbling health service in Zimbabwe for leading many women to opt for home-based deliveries.
“Bulawayo recorded more than 70 home births between October and November 2023. Reasons cited include high ambulance service fees and maternity fees. In Harare cases of medical negligence; disrespect and demeaning experiences in maternal care and lack of accountability by health professionals in local clinics,” ZIMCODD said.
The organ notes that several hospitals have been making headlines with some women seeking justice through litigation after being failed by the health delivery system due to a deep-seated challenge being exacerbated by a lack of resources in public health institutions owing to late disbursements of health budgets.
“While the National Development Strategy 1 speaks to quality healthcare services, maternal mortality rate remains high in Zimbabwe at 363 per 100,000 live births. The dire situation also reflects that Zimbabwe is far from achieving the SDG 3.1 target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030,” observed ZIMCODD.
ZIMCODD has partly levelled the blame on the brain drain in the health sector as chief among the causes compounding the problem highlighting that since 2020, around 4,500 health personnel have left the country due to poor wages, leading to a further decline in the quality of healthcare services.
Against the cocktail of challenges, the government was called upon to prioritise and invest in maternal health services to ensure the well-being of mothers and infants which includes improving access to quality healthcare facilities, skilled healthcare professionals and essential medical supplies.
The Treasury should allocate adequate resources to the health sector, in line with the Abuja declaration of 2001, which recommends allocating at least 15% of the total budget to healthcare.
“Collaboration between government, civil society organisations and development partners is crucial for pooling of resources, expertise and knowledge to implement effective strategies and interventions aimed at improving maternal health outcomes,” added ZIMCODD.