Maternal health compromised

The government is committed to the provision of universal access to reproductive health and aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75 per cent, according to the Minister of Health and Child Welfare Doctor Henry Madzorera.

The government is committed to reducing the maternal mortality rate.
The government is committed to reducing the maternal mortality rate.

Madzorera said this at a public agenda forum organised by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.

He said over 90 per cent of maternal deaths occurred in developing countries with one in every 16 pregnant women dying during birth due to poverty-related causes.

Unfavourable socio-economic conditions in developing countries fuel the high maternal death and child mortality ratio.

“There are more than three million still births worldwide each year, with most of these deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, most maternal deaths can be avoided if relevant steps are taken towards improving the welfare of the girl child and women in Africa,” said Madzorera.

Economic empowerment

The Minister explained that the majority of women lacked economic empowerment and were often not in a position to seek medical help because of lack of resources. Transport problems to the medical centre and lack of immediate attendance and care by health personnel also contributed to the problem.

“Initially the government made a resolution that no-one should live more than 8km from a health centre, but this is no longer a realistic goal.”

Doctor Madzorera says that all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were health-related. Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, promoting gender equality and empowering women, ensuring environmental sustainability and achieving universal primary education among others all contributed to a healthy people and consequently a healthy nation.

“An empowered woman is in a position to make good decisions regarding her health and her upkeep of the family, while an educated person or woman is in a position to live a healthy life,” he explained.

In a speech read on her behalf, The Deputy Director for Reproductive Health, Margaret Nyandoro, said Zimbabwe was a signatory to the 2006 Maputo Plan of Action, SADC Protocol on Sexual and Reproductive Health, World Health Organisation Strategy and United Nations Millennium Development Goals, signifying government commitment to an intensified and integrated effort towards the reduction of maternal mortality The Zimbabwean government has availed three sites in Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo to compliment efforts to detect cervical cancer in women as part of its efforts to improve the health of Zimbabwean women.

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