As the country’s health crisis continues to deteriorate, pregnant women are feeling the heat as more hospitals are closing and turning them away while others have been giving birth in unsafe and unconventional places.
Most hospitals remain closed after nurses and doctors went on a strike in June, a move which crippled the health sector.
The COVID-19 has even worse the situation with most patients being turned away if they do not have a COVID-19 negative certificate.
Pregnant women have been heavily affected by the serious health crisis which has developed into a human rights crisis as they are being turned away despite being due for delivery.
Last week, gynaecologists appealed to the government to urgently deal with the worsening health crisis after it was reported that we’ve out of eight mothers had lost their babies while giving birth at Harare Hospital in a single day.
“The hospital closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that has caused great pain to us, pregnant women. We are being turned away from the only hospital in our community and we have had cases of women giving birth in very unconventional places. One woman gave birth on the road after she was turned away,” said one expecting mother in Zvishavane.
Some women are being attended to by unqualified nurses, putting the lives of both the child and mother at risk.
Nurses have been on strike for more than two months and the country’s big hospitals are facing an acute shortage of health personnel.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government announced last week that the solution to striking nurses will be to recruit more nurses.
“More nurses will be urgently recruited from the available pool of qualified nurses, while processes to resolve those on industrial action continue,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in Cabinet.
The Zimbabwe Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists last week challenged the government to move in urgently to address maternal health as a matter of urgent as most people continue to lost their lives.
“The situation has been worsened by the nurses strike at major public hospitals which has left most of the facilities understaffed.
“Simply put, unborn children and mothers are dying daily or suffering from the repercussions of inadequate care.
“We believe the grievances of the Healthcare workers are valid and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the statement further reads.
“Our women are suffering and we believe that all stakeholders, the government, medical practitioners, civil society and individuals must act to save the voiceless mothers and babies,” reads the statement.
ZimRights Association Director, Dzikamai Bere told 263Chat that the situation needs an urgent redress by the government which he said should focus more on the needs to the women, particularly, the pregnant ones.
“The COVID-19 crisis has affected women and children more than anyone else because women face a number of challenges. It is very important for the government In its response strategy to pay attention to the needs of expecting mothers.
“This is a challenge we are facing across the country and it is important to have an approach that is sensitive to gender,” he said.